Knit – tink – frog … but lace is still lovely

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Cast on
Knit knit count
Knit knit count count
Tink* count
Tink tink count count
Frog**

Cast on
Knit knit count
Knit knit count
Knit knit count
Tink count
Knit knit knit knit
Count
Knit knit knit knit
Knit …

I like charts when I’m knitting lace patterns. Once you’ve done a few rows, it’s easy to spot any mistakes since your knitting doesn’t match the image. Usually. For some reason this time, I really struggled to get going with this straightforward pattern. Unpicking lace stitch-by-stitch is a challenge. The yarnover loops often mess with your stitch counts. I think that’s what happened to me here. The best thing to do? Begin again. I’ve now done five repeats of the pattern and it’s looking quite splendid.

bue lace wave pattern

This is Magic Waves by Kieran Foley knitted in Manos del Uruguay Lace yarn.

*Tink means to undo your knitting stitch-by-stitch (it is literally the word knit backwards).

**Frog is a word adopted by knitters to define ripping out row after row of knitting (‘rip-it, rip it’).

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Casting off – the whole story

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The preschool children I taught in Singapore often used same same to describe identical objects and same for similar ones. I think that sums up this cardigan perfectly.

front view of pale blue lightweight cardigan The pattern is “Same Same but different (contiguous Walnuss)” by ANKESTRiCK (Ravelry user name Fallmasche) and by my standards I made a heck of a lot of changes to the design:

  • I wanted the fronts and the back to be the same length so I ignored all the directions for making side pleats.
  • The cardigan is longer so I increased the spaces between the shaping rows.
  • The sleeves are wider than in the pattern. I picked up extra stitches under the arm, which is what many knitters do to avoid holes, but instead of decreasing them away, I followed the pattern’s system of decreases.
  • My sleeves are a little longer than in the pattern.
  • Button placement – I made more buttonholes to prevent the fronts from gaping.
  • I made changes to the i-cord bind off/cast off for the sleeves and the neckline; mine is one stitch narrower than in the pattern.

Why did I choose this pattern?

  • It is a lightweight cardigan that should serve me well in Sydney winters and Cologne and Edinburgh springs/summers.
  • It was one of very few lightweight patterns that showed projects with people wearing blouses underneath and not just a tee-shirt or skimpy vest/camisole top, increasing its versatility.
  • The only negative comments on Ravelry were to do with button placement (and this was easily fixed). The few projects that have been ripped back or abandoned seem to be because the knitters were bored or the fit wasn’t right (tension!).
  • I liked the idea of knitting the button bands at the same time.

How did I proceed?

  • I never jump in blindfold. I chose this pattern for its practicality as part of my wardrobe as well as its appearance.
  • I checked the projects on Ravelry for useful comments. There are currently 378 projects on Ravelry. Please don’t think I checked through each and every one. There are filters like ‘helpful’  which can draw your attention to any critical aspects (like the button placement here). You can, of course, also search specific criteria like buttonholes or sleeves.
  • I looked at the photos of women wearing the cardigan. Regardless of how poor the photo shot, I actually appreciate seeing real women in real garments rather than just perfect photos of lovely cardigans on dressmakers’ dummies or clothes hangers!
  • I had a very good (knitting) friend, M, measure across my shoulders, as stated in the pattern, to determine size. This was a smart idea as Same Same but different is knitted with saddle shoulders and using the contiguous sleeve method so the back and shoulders need to fit well.
  • I knitted two tension squares (aka gauge swatches). Why two? Because the first one didn’t give me the exact measurements stated and I wanted to be very sure before committing myself. Just half a stitch in difference doesn’t sound like much but expand that over each of your four-inch repeats and suddenly your card end up being bigger or smaller than you were hoping for!
  • I made a lot of notes on the pattern. I tend to count in ‘garden gates’ with dots above for shaping, which is helpful when it comes to knitting the second sleeve, for instance. I highlighted the instructions for the button and buttonhole bands. I could not remember them for the life of me (there are slipped knit and slipped purl stitches) and at least this way I always knew what to do.
  • I followed good suggestions on Ravelry for having more buttons and for marking each buttonhole row as I went along. This is actually a bit  ‘duh’ / slap head / why didn’t I think of this before. It made sewing on the buttons so much easier as there was no counting involved afterwards. I sewed on the buttons prior to blocking and then buttoned the cardigan shut for its bath.

Pattern notes

Same-2     Same-1

Criticism?

  • None bar what I knew already – knitting a seamless cardigan means each row of knitting is very long! Yes, you alternate plain and purl but it is still dull. I had a bit of a mental block after I’d separated the sleeves from the body. The rows were still so long and it seemed as if I would be knitting for ever. I abandoned this for a while but with a touch of regret. I loved the feel of the yarn, its tactility, but those loooong rows were so off-putting.

Yarn used?

  • I made my cardigan from Holst Garn’s Coast. It’s a lovely blend of cotton and wool and feels very soft. If you’ve knitted with Holst yarns, you’ll appreciate the colour range available. Coast is softer than Supersoft. It blooms a bit on contact with water (which is another reason for checking tension upfront!) so what feels a tad skinny on your needles works out to be perfect in your finished garment.
  • I bought my yarn at Be Inspired Fibres*. This isn’t my LYS but it is my LYS when I visit my parents and long may that remain so! Mei’s shop is literally a ten-minute walk from my parents’. Mei is always so wonderfully helpful. If you want to know more you can find her here: shop details on Ravelry, on Facebook and Mei’s online shop is here. You can also follow Mei’s Be Inspired Fibres blog here on WordPress.
    and I’ve mentioned her in SmittenBe Inspired and Be Inspired – Edinburgh Delights posts, too.

The 60 million dollar question: would I make this again?

  • Yes I would. I’m really pleased with the fit.
  • The pattern was easy to follow. It’s broken down into sections which make instructions like ‘continue with saddle increases on every row and add front edge increases on every second row’ straightforward.
  • I love the yarn. My cardigan is so light and airy and weighs just 127g.
  • There is one but, however – the button bands! I would increase their width and probably use even more buttons.

And because I’m so happy here are a few photos – with even more on Ravelry. I couldn’t help myself!

back view of pale blue lightweight cardigan
full front view of pale blue lightweight cardigan
half-front view pale blue lightweight cardigan worn open
side view pale blue lightweight cardigan arms up
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Casting off… and casting on!

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I’ve finally finished my cardigan but it deserves a post of its own so here’s a little picture in the meantime.

close-up pale blue lightweight cardigan

And because a pair of socks is not enough to have on the needles at any one time, here’s a little peek at a project that I’ve just cast on. I’m making a wrap using Manos del Uruguay yarn. It’s not for me and I already know that I’ll be loath to part with it. The colour so suits the pattern but more of that later…

beginning rows of waves wrap and ball of yarn

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Knitting in Sydney … but not mine

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Isn’t this just a great piece of knitting?

knitted lampshade in cafe in Sydney

You can see it in all its glory hanging from the ceiling in the Coogee Pavilion. (The Pavilion is an 1880’s building that started life as an aquarium and swimming pool and now houses a restaurant, café and more. Coogee is a beach suburb situated to the south-east of Sydney.)

This lampshade is a good metre in diameter and if I lived in the kind of home that had space for a giant chandelier I would definitely consider a lampshade like this one.

I have been knitting. I have. But nothing as spectacular as lampshades. Just chugging along with my cardigan which I’m now keen to finish so I can start the next project I have planned.

There’s another toe-up sock on my needles, too, but goes without saying and, anyway, I needed some easy and portable knitting to take to the Thursday night knitting get-together.  All will be revealed soon.

In the meantime, did you know there are 156 patterns for lampshades on Ravelry?

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FO Friday – Pink Mix Possums

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It’s far too warm for socks right now but I know I’ll enjoy wearing these pinky-red beauties in the winter. The pattern is Chain Drive Socks and it’s by Heather Sebastian (aka Joey’s House). It’s a little bit like Socks on a Plane but with a smaller cable twist down each side of the leg and foot. This means there’s no left nor right sock which will even out wear so they should last longer, too! The colour is Pink Mix and these socks mark the start of my plan to broaden my sock colour horizons for the year.

I knit socks with a fair bit of negative ease so they fit snuggly but not tightly. As a result, there’s always quite a bit left over. I think this yarn would be perfect for a pair of fingerless mitts!

pink cabled socks possum wool front

pink cabled socks possum wool side of foot

pink cabled socks possum wool feet crossed

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New Year’s resolutions – made to be broken?

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I didn’t make any New Year’s resolutions for 2014. Which was good, as I probably wouldn’t have kept them. I had started off the year by taking part in a minimal-commitment knitalong: Socks with Sarah, a KAL for 2014 but even then I fell by the wayside.

I certainly took the a “it doesn’t matter how little” to heart as according to Ravelry I needed three months to complete my first pair of socks! By the end of the year, I had knitted six pairs, (as well as various other things) but had definitely abandoned the idea of knit-a-bit-every-day, while other projects were given priority.

Many of the knitters in Knitting Sarah’s Ravelry group are keen to continue in 2015 and once again, I’m tempted. It really isn’t realistic to think I will actually knit part of a sock every day, particularly as I have other knitting and crafting objectives for the year. However, while my collection of hand-knit socks covers the green-blue-purple spectrum quite well…

handknitted socks in drawer…I think I need to broaden my colour horizons.

Funnily enough, I have been knitting on a sock nearly every day since Mr Soknitsome gave me this lovely New Zealand yarn for Christmas. He’d been in a wool shop in Auckland while on a business trip and had specifically asked for wool for socks. I was most impressed! (Amusingly, he’d been offered German yarn first!) This is Waikiwi Prints from Naturally and it is beautifully soft.

pink possum wool naturally waikiwi      pink possum wool naturally waikiwi sock heel

It’s made up of 55% New Zealand Merino, 20% nylon, 15% alpaca, and 10% possum. I’ve never knitted with such luxurious sock yarn before. The colour is fantastic too and, seemingly, just what I was needing. New Year’s resolutions anyone?

This could be the start of something big…

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I’ve knitted 23 pairs of socks to date. Most of these pairs have used significantly less than 100g of yarn. I’ve been saving the remains for emergency repairs and darning but I don’t really envisage using them for such (particularly as my own pairs have had the heels reinforced prior to wear). I thought it would be nice to use the leftovers in a blanket. Ravelry has hundreds of projects, ranging from rows of stripes to patchwork squares and even stuff-as-you-go hexagons.

Before browsing too much, I drew up a shortlist of criteria that would hopefully help me decide which kind of scrap blanket would work for me:

  • Work in pieces to enable a good arrangement of colours
  • Project should be easy to carry around
  • Add in a neutral colour to balance some of the highly variegated yarns

Finally, I decided on making a Lizard Ridge blanket (pattern by Laura Aylor), using grey as one of the striping colours and all my leftovers for the contrast. Lizard Ridge is knitted in worsted-weight Noro yarn so each square is larger than one you’d get using 4-ply/fingering wool. I started off by knitting a square that was one-repeat (i.e. about a third) wider. It seemed a bit on the floppy side. I decided to knit as written and just make more squares. I was fortunate enough to sit next to Caitriona at December’s Knitters’ Guild meeting and she commented on her dislike of sewing together her Lizard Ridge blanket. It made me think. Seriously. About all the squares I would need… I recalled the fund-raising charity blanket that the Stitch ‘n’ Bitch group at the AIWCC made (I was one of the ‘lucky’ ones involved in its assembly)…

  • Should I start all over again and knit bigger squares?
  • Should I just bite the bullet and resign myself to a lot of sewing-up?

The solution is a compromise of sorts – my squares are now rectangles. They are still 43 stitches wide, as in the pattern, but they feature six not four sets of stripes.

Lizard Ridge bubble stripes blanket square grey blue Lizard Ridge bubble stripes blanket square grey green

Lizard Ridge bubble stripes blanket square grey greens Lizard Ridge bubble stripes blanket square grey red

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Instant Gratification

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Keys are sharp little things and mine were digging into my leg when I carried them in my pocket. They probably weren’t doing the linings of my handbags much good either. The quick fix solution? A simple tube sock with an i-cord to keep the keys and sock together.

  keys attached to red tube sock pouch        red tube sock pouch for keys

I used Cat Bordhi’s version of Judy Becker’s Stretchy Cast-On. I use this for toe-up socks but here I cast on the total number of stitches straightaway. The start is a little fiddly on DPNs but nothing too tricky.  The tube is a good half-inch longer than my keys and the stretchy two-by-two ribbing pulls the top in over the keys.

Stripes – the love affair continues

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I’ve commented before on the fact that I’m pretty taken with stripes. Well, A, one of my very good friends in Cologne, gave me two lovely balls of striping sock yarn and some patterns “for the plane”. I cast on the first toe on the train between Cologne and Frankfurt.

Stripey ribbed socks - toe on knitting needles

By the time I boarded my second flight in Bangkok the foot was well underway.

Stripey ribbed socks - foot on knitting needles

Since I’ve also been working on a cardigan, the socks were taken out and about in my bag but not worked on much at home. But now they are finished. This is Strrripes, my toe-up version of Regina Satta’s  Jeck design. There are columns of slipped stitches which stand out more when the socks are on feet:

Stripey ribbed socks on feetI adore stripes but self-striping sock yarn can be worrisome. Do I make the socks match exactly? Do I simply start the second sock where the first one ends? Do I…?

Look closely and you’ll see that the orange stripes across the feet are aligned. This is perfect for  T-bar style, Mary Jane, shoes. Look more closely and you’ll see (if it hasn’t jumped out at you already) that the other stripes stop and start roughly in the same places but the colours don’t match. In my indecision over whether to go for perfectly identical socks or not, I chose the other option and knitted one sock from each end of the ball!Stripey ribbed socks - side view

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It’s not just a walk in the park

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This is a photo-laden post with no knitting so if you’re here for some pretties, they are of the scenic and not the woolly kind!

Since moving to Sydney I’ve continued with my regular morning walk. Six kilometres along the Rhine have been replaced with a good five around part of the harbour, the Opera House and through the Botanic Gardens. The photos here were taken over several days.

I begin parallel to Finger Wharf. This is the longest timbered-piled wharf in the world and started out as a wool-shipping wharf! Finger Wharf Woolloomooloo Bay SydneyThe old buildings have been renovated and turned into flats and restaurants.

This is one of a collection of seashell sculptures that are reverberation chambers. They are sometimes submerged so that natural sounds mix with the pre-recorded historical information. seashell sculptures Woolloomooloo Bay SydneyThe pathway climbs a little allowing a view of the Andrew “Boy” Charlton swimming pool. Charlton was an Australian swimmer who won five Olympic medals during the 1920s but there’s been some kind of swimming here since the first Europeans settled in Sydney. Woolloomooloo Bay was a working harbour and you can see the naval dockyard (still in operation) in the background.Outdoor pool and naval dockyard at Woolloomooloo Bay Sydney

Further along Mrs Macquarie’s Trail, we get to Mrs Macquarie’s Chair. This is a popular tourist spot but bereft of people early in the morning. Mrs Macquarie’s Chair stone steps seat SydneyMacquarie was the Governor of New South Wales from 1810-1821 and he had this seat carved (by convicts) out of the rock for his wife to enjoy the view.Viewpoint Sydney Mrs Macquarie’s Chair

Walk round Mrs Macquarie’s Point and you’re confronted with The View – Sydney Opera House and the Harbour Bridge. Sydney Opera House and the Harbour Bridge.Again, come early for people-free photos! Then it’s a walk around Farm Cove. On my right the Opera House in front of Sydney Harbour Bridge Sydney Opera House and the Harbour Bridgeand on my left this lovely Jacaranda tree. giant flowering Jacaranda tree Royal Botanic Gardens, SydneyLook closely and you’ll spot that lovely Jacaranda tree again once I’ve walked 1.4 km round the cove view across Farm Cove near Sydney Opera Houseand am nearing the Opera House. Almost there!Sydney Opera House

Then I then walk right round the outside of the Opera House to get a good view of the bridge.  Sydney Harbour BridgeStraight across, you have The Rocks and Mr Soknitsome works in one of the office buildings here on the left.Sydney Harbour offices and cruise liner

Back into the Botanic Gardens near Government House, the residence of the Governor of NSW (this photo was taken from further inside the gardens).Government House in Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney I then meander my way home. I have little or no sense of direction and so I end up taking various paths but always at a fast pace. Past this herb garden, Herb garden inRoyal Botanic Gardens, Sydneyor these giant trees (the statue is almost life-size so you get an idea of how large some of these old trees are). Giant trees, classical statue woman in Royal Botanic Gardens, SydneyMr Soknitsome first showed me this Elephant Foot Tree but I have since found it myself.Elephant Foot Tree

When I pass this fountainLevy Fountain, Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney

I know I’ve reached the Woolloomooloo Gate. Entrance Gates Royal Botanic Gardens, SydneyThen I walk past the Art Gallery of New South Wales and I’m almost home.Art Gallery of New South Wales

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