A panoply of (sometimes) lovingly handmade crud.

Tag Archives: yarn

I’m currently working on knitting the She Loves Wool sweater. As I mentioned in a previous post, I asked for this kit for my birthday (which just happens to be today) after having my eye on it ever since it was released.

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I couldn’t resist opening all of my birthday presents as soon as I received them. I have always had issues with impulse control and I was really eager to start a new project after I finished my Paper Whales sweater.

I had a lot of weird ambivalent feelings before starting this sweater. I felt apprehensive about the fact that there are no projects on Ravelry.  I also a saw a similar sweater and suddenly felt like maybe I should knit that instead.

Photo credit: Tomo Sugiyama (すぎやまとも)

I’m really keen to come out of this process with a sweater I am in love with. I measured a few tops and sweaters to gauge the length I want for the body and sleeves. I want this sweater to hit on the hip without loads of extra room. I want a little bit of ease but a decent fit that accentuates my figure.

Body length

Striped RTW 21.5″

Rainbow Breton 23″

Sleeve length

League 26″

Rainbow Breton 26″

According to the schematic, the sweater will be a little long in the body (24.25″). Sleeve length should be good (31″). I will have to be mindful to measure as I go since my row gauge is a bit off. I will probably knit the main body to 2″ shorter than the length stated in the pattern.

I also want a nice, tight neckline more similar to the ‘winter woven’ sweater pictured above. One of my current pet peeves is when you can see my t-shirt under my sweater. My aubergine rainbow sweater comes the closest to having the neckline size I want. Annoyingly I don’t ever seem to have knit a raglan sweater with a round neck. What I may have to do is keep the live stitches for all four pieces on hold after I finish them. I can then baste the seams together and check the fit of the neck before casting them all off. An advantage of the kit containing loads of small balls of wool is that this should be pretty easy.

I ended up knitting three gauge swatches. My gauge was slightly under that stated in the pattern on the recommended 3.5mm needles. Even though blocking brought it close, I wanted to try out going up a needle size. One criticism I have of the pattern is that it suggests that you can try to knit looser or tighter if your gauge is off. This is presumably aimed at newer knitters who don’t have a range of needle sizes, or anyone who is annoyed at paying out for WatG’s fancy needles only to find them of no use. I really think this is awful advice. A lot of different factors influence your tension and I don’t think that consciously trying to knit differently is an effective solution- especially when it is so easy to simply use different needles!

Anyway, I found that the fabric on 4mm needles looked awful and the gauge was way off- I frogged that swatch without even blocking it. After not liking the fabric as much on 3.75mm needles either, I decided to stick with a 3.5mm needle. According to my calculations if I knit size 1 my finished bust will be just over 38ins (zero ease). Size 2 would be just over 41ins (3ins ease). My League is around 37″ in the bust and plenty roomy so I will stick with size 1.

Another issue that I considered was whether to add waist shaping. Even though I want this to be a fairly casual sweater, I want to look nice wearing it. I like the fit of my Better Breton sweater so I eventually decided to add similar shaping to that pattern.

I’ve noticed over the years how much more willing I am to spend a lot of time in the planning stages of a project. I think this represents progress for me since I have a tendency in life to be so relentlessly focused on outcomes that I do not engage with or enjoy the process of getting there.

With knitting, time spent planning tends to be a worthwhile . Some things can only be learnt through (sometimes bitter) experience. However, there are other problems that can be avoided through careful planning, especially as you come to learn about the art and science of knitting over time.

Pattern and yarn: She Loves Wool kit

Ravelry project page

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Pompom making is often touted as a great craft for beginners, being fairly straightforward, quick and producing wonderfully squishable results. However, I have had several pompom-related dramas in recent years. After finishing my Shore Street hat, I liked the idea of adorning it with an enormous celebratory rainbow pompom. Surely a Google search would come up with a tutorial, right? After all, I found it pretty easy to make a golden snitch pompom.

Purple pompom golden snitch design

Wrong.

This is the only reference I could find to making the rainbow pompom of my dreams. I can’t even credit the photo as it appears on a number of different sites in different languages. It’s not a tutorial- I couldn’t really even tell if here were one or two layers

This was my first time trying out the plastic pompom makers I purchased after the last time I made them with cardboard templates.

Notes:

  • Make very large sections of colour and not too many. I would say probably 4-5 max on each side of the pompom maker.
  • J&S jumper weight is not a great yarn for making pompoms. I much preferred the look of the Titus sections.
  • Be careful with overstuffing plastic pompom makers. Since I just had cheap ones from China, they came apart pretty easily and I nearly ruined my pompom before I had even tied it up!

Here is how I did the wrapping.

Stage 1

Stage 2

Stage 3

And here is the resulting pom from a few angles

Overall I am a little disappointed with the pompom, given how much yarn I had to use to get it. I hope this post helps anyone who shares my enormous rainbow pompom dreams.


Just as I was nearing the finish line and working on the final, extremely long, rows at the top of the shawl, I had to take an extended hiatus in order to squeeze in an urgent secret project. Knitting an entire fingering weight jumper in under three weeks killed my desire to pick up the needles for a while. Just as I started work on the wrap again, I hurt my thumb.

However, fortunately it didn’t take too long for me to be able to knit again. Before long, I’d finished the project. I decided to try out a new method of casting off, which apparently looks better on garter stitch. I used this tutorial for the Icelandic cast off.

Not the best way to discover there’s a hole in the back of your tights

My shawl came out pretty close to the measurements on the schematic. I blocked mainly to flatten it, and to improve the ‘W’ shapes. Looking at the pics made me realise that some of the lines are far from parallel, but I don’t think that’s noticeable when I’m wearing it.

Pattern: Wonder Woman Wrap (FREE on Ravelry)

Yarn: 1 skein each Ella Rae Lace Merino (Pineapple Soda) and Fyberspates Scrumptious 4-ply (Kiss)

Ravelry project page


Kirstie’s Handmade Christmas included a speed knitting contest, for reasons of drama and tension I guess. Perhaps they were hoping for some shots of wooly sabotage. Speed knitting is a bit of a strange concept because there is almost never a timed element to knitting. Although that could be said of baking, or any number of activities that are subject to televised competitions. In fact, the only other speed knitting I have ever done was making my Rainbow bright jumper due to the super tight turnaround time!

It was so strange to see how they edited all the footage they took of me for the final program. It was even stranger to be referred to as ‘yarn geek Monique’ on numerous occasions. But if the shoe fits…

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I didn’t get to mention on the show that most of the clothing I wore was handmade. When I was being filmed at home, I had my better Breton sweater on underneath my favourite pinafore. During the speed knitting challenge, I wore my octopus Betty (as pictured here). And I wore my fuchsia tulip skirt with my finished jumper.

I had initially planned to make a cute mini hat to match my sweater, but I was asked to make a full-sized item. Fortunately, I had a ball of Crazy Sexy Yarn in my stash left over from a wrap I made a couple of years ago. This cowl is basically a Lil Snood Dogg. I would have preferred it to be a bit bigger, but I was limited by the amount of (also leftover) t-shirt yarn I had to cast off with for the circumference. I was then limited by time for the length.

I think it looks pretty good given that it only took an hour, and it’s been pretty useful in the current London freeze.

It was so weird that Jade from WatG was one of the judges! We’d met years ago when I did a knitting audition for them- back when they still sold items made by ‘gang makers.’ It was really interesting to hear how things went for the company.

Yarn: Wool and the Gang Crazy Sexy Wool and a couple of metres of Jersey Be Good

Pattern: Very Lil Snood Dogg

Ravelry project page


I lost steam on my knitting again after getting near the end of my Wowligan. That  project is on my summer to-do list, so hopefully I’ll get around to finishing off the button bands in the next couple of weeks.


Copyright Carissa Browning via Ravelry

I’ve got a couple of summer trips coming up where it will be nice to have a fairly straightforward project along with me. Something that caught my eye immediately was this beautiful Wonder Woman shawl. I’m not especially into comic books but I am into bold, graphic designs and getting more red into my wardrobe. I picked up some yarn on the Love Knitting website but the red was completely the wrong colour. I decided to finally head to I Knit London, which is currently my LYS, to pick up a suitably cartoonish shade.

I’ve been aware of IKL since my days as a fledgling knitter, when I accompanied them to Camp Bestival to volunteer in their tent one summer. It was good to finally get a chance to visit the store just eight short years later (seriously where does the time go?). I’ve got to say that I liked IKL. Gerard dyes his own yarns and I will definitely have to go back as his speckled wool would make a great jumper. I still have a speckled Humboldt sweater in mind.

Anyway, I picked up some red- a bit more cherry than I would have liked, but I couldn’t be bothered to trek to another yarn store. I had some fun using the swift and ball-winder to wind the yarn, helped by the ladies in the knitting group that was running when I visited. I hate hand-winding so much, it was great to be able to skip that step and be left with a professional-looking yarn cake.

So far the knitting on this pattern has been going well. I’m really enjoying the fact that this project is mindless enough for me to work on while I finally catch up on Game of Thrones. I didn’t get a chance to watch series 5 or 6 (though I did read the books a few years ago) and I’ve been loving bingeing them. The other advantage of knitting is that it stops me from checking my phone and therefore missing bits of the action.

It’s not that easy to get a decent picture because of how the shawl is constructed, but here’s how it’s looking so far. You can see that the W shape is starting to emerge.

Pattern: Wonder Woman Wrap (FREE on Ravelry)

Yarn: 1 skein each Ella Rae Lace Merino (Pineapple Soda) and Fyberspates Scrumptious 4-ply (Kiss)

Ravelry project page


I finished my Unspeakable hat in pretty short order and quickly whipped up a yellow pompom as its crowning glory. Despite spending ages carefully cutting out my cardboard template, the pompom looked pretty crap. I noticed the last time that I made a pompom this way, for my other hat using the same pattern, the pompom was a bit wonky.

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This time, no amount of trimming seemed to bring the pom in to the massive fluffy sphere in my mind’s eye. At the same time, I started to doubt my design choice. Was it a bit simplistic and crap-looking to just have a big yellow pompom plopped on top of the sparkly purple hat? (Note: Looking at these pics, the pompom really doesn’t look that bad. I think this is an example of me being a little bit of a crazy perfectionist.)

As well as ordering a plastic pompom maker from Amazon (I resisted for years since one can make do without, but I now feel this is a false time economy), I remembered seeing some beautifully designed pompoms online some time back.

After some googling, I found this tutorial for making pompoms with coloured designs on them, and decided to have a go at making my own golden snitch pompom as part of the #craftblogclub craft challenge.

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This is the design, which will guide me when I’m wrapping the yarn around…

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…this handmade pompom maker. The clever addition of the smaller rainbow of cardboard on the templates at the top creates a space for your scissors, to make cutting the pompom easier.


This pompom turned out okay for a first try, but I realised that I had made the snitch design far too big, so much so that it was difficult to tell what it was at a glance. I decided to try again.

I hope you can tell which pompom is which! I didn’t bother trimming the first one that much as already knew I would be trying again. I made a snitch design on both sides of both pompoms. I’m definitely featuring the better side in these pics.

Definitely feel like ‘trimming my pompom’ should be a euphemism for something…


Last week I disregarded my inner yarn snob and bought three balls of yarn for £2 in a pound shop. I just couldn’t resist the Unspeakable purple with pinkish metallic thread running through it. For some reason, my camera registers the colour as a sort of royal blue, but I assure you that it is purple IRL.

I decided to make a hat for quidditch. In the unlikely that any readers are not quidditch fans, this is what my team’s kit looks like. 


Since the yarn is so cheap, I hope I won’t worry about getting the hat muddy and washing it. I thought about making a fancy design, but I think I’m going to stick with a simple sparkly purple hat with a massive yellow pompom on top. I LOVE pompoms!

This yarn is DK so I decided to hold it double as I wanted to use the classic cuffed hat knitting pattern I’ve made before. Normally I wouldn’t swatch for a hat, but I did this time. My gauge came out quite large, which was actually a good thing as this pattern makes a hat too small for my enormous noggin. Due to the gauge difference, I am following the pattern as written and, according to my calculations, the hat should fit.

I’ve got to say that I’m not sure I like my yarn snobbery. I tend to think that knitting takes bloody ages, so you might as well use the best materials you can afford. However, a problem with this attitude is that, often, a project just doesn’t turn out the way you planned. When that happens, not only have you sunk dozens of hours into it, but you have made a financial investment on which there will be no return. Hence the numerous unloved sweaters stashed around my house.

Sometimes a good acrylic workhorse yarn is the right tool for the job. It stood up really well in the Boo blanket I made for my sister. I’m seriously considering making one of these for myself. I would just need to choose a design.

Anyway, I’m enjoying this project and I think I will be happy with the end result. My knitting mojo still hasn’t returned, so it’s nice to keep my hand in with small items.

Yarn: 3 balls of ‘Essential Knitting’

Pattern: Classic Cuffed Hat by Purl Soho (free pattern)

Ravelry project page