Primavera – my three seasons socks

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Pink and orange textured socksThese socks have been a work-in-progress for far too long. I kept abandoning them for other projects. I ‘saved’ them for times when sock-knitting was best. They’ve been to a few Thursday knit nights but it’s been a while since I’ve  worked on them with any kind of commitment. It was time to change all that. Besides, I really like the colours and I am still keen to have more socks that aren’t shades of blue or green in my sock drawer.

Pink and orange textured socks

So having started these in summery January, and worked on them on-and-off through the autumn, they are now finished. Perfect timing as Sydney has been experiencing a cold snap. The yarn comes from a German company – Wolle Rödel – and this is a traditional 75% wool / 25% nylon blend. I really like the Primavera pattern. I modified it so I could knit these toe-up. The cables would have pointed the wrong way otherwise. This could have been tricky but, luckily enough, another Raveler, Kunterbunt, had done the same so I followed her stitch instructions. (Her project comes up as a linked bookmark on my Ravelry project page). It worked like a charm. I started each sock with the same colour but clearly not in exactly the same place!

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Thursday Night is Knit Night

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Thursday night is knit night. It’s a lifesaver for someone like me, a trailing spouse slash part-time freelancer working from home. Not that I’m unhappy or bored in my own company (I’m a knitter after all!) but particularly in the weeks when Mr Soknitsome travels overseas on business, I appreciate the friendliness and warm-heartedness of my knitting buddies. We have a good laugh. We ooh and aah over each others’ projects and yarn  – and there was some breathtakingly drop-dead gorgeous yarn out tonight! We sympathise over daytime office dramas. I find it pretty useful, too, for understanding how things work here. I now know where I’ll go in search of my next pair of specs. I hear about places to see, museums to visit and festivals to enjoy. It helps me to feel at home here and that is priceless.

So what have I been knitting?

I’ve knitted a bit more of my East Gable Shawl. This is a pattern by Judy Marples and is as always very straightforward. This pattern is slightly less intuitive than some others as it grows in a feathery/fern way rather than geometrically. I’m using Madeline Tosh Merino Light in a kind of blueish turquoise and I love it. It’s a bit hard to see the pattern here – it’s all so squashed but I  know I’m going to love this once it’s blocked.light blue lace shawlThis is my home knitting. Since Mr Soknitsome is away I have a little more time, so I listen to various book readings on the BBC while I knit. Some are classics that make great audio dramas especially as you know you’d struggle to read the book; others are new publications. They are always good.

Thursday knit night really requires simpler knitting. This is the body of Rye. beige cardigan on knitting needlesIt’s a very new cardigan pattern from Thea Colman. I’m using a yarn that comes in limited un-dyed colours – there are flock numbers instead of dye lots! It softens up after a bath. How do I know? Because I’m a good girl and always knit tension squares. I’m being quite adventurous here and knitting an in-between size. More soon…

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Houndstooth makes a change from stripes

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It’s fair to say that I am a tad enamoured with stripes. Now that favourites can be organised into bundles on Ravelry, I have a collection of striped garments as well as another for striped neckwear. Stripes feature highly, too, in one of my sock bundles. Older Soknitsome Daughter gave me some beautiful baby alpaca wool for my birthday, reckoning I could make (striped) socks with it. Well, this yarn is far too good for socks and I immediately thought about stripy scarves or small shawls instead. I’ve had Jennifer Dassau’s pattern Sundry in my favourites for a long time. Most of the projects are made with thinner yarn and more of it but this scarf/shawl pattern is knitted from side to side so it can be made to any size. Here’s mine.grey and purple houndstooth check scarf

This was the perfect project for knit night. In fact it was the perfect project full stop. It was such a pleasurably tactile experience that I knitted and knitted (it’s all garter) and knitted and of course once I reached the houndstooth section there was no stopping me.

I even took my knitting into the Botanic Gardens while making the most of some lovely sunshiny winter weather last weekend.

knitting outdoors sydney harbour bridge

I haven’t knitted this kind of check before. It’s just a matter of slipping alternate stitches yet it looks very effective. Even the ‘wrong’ side makes neat stripes. I decided against the picot edge and did a stretchy cast off which left me with just a couple of grams of wool.

grey and purple houndstooth check scarf    grey and purple houndstooth check scarf

In my eagerness to progress, I failed to read the pattern properly. Instead of knitting an increase into the last stitch of the row, I increased in the penultimate stitch, as usually happens. One of my edges does not look like it should but I wasn’t keen on undoing it as the yarn is slightly ‘sticky’. I know for next time.
grey and purple houndstooth check scarf

Next time? Yes, I could well imagine having another one of these.

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European Knitting – The Socks

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What would a holiday that involved a lot of travelling be without socks? Socks on needles, to be knitted, of course!

There have been peeks of them already. These grey ones are the third pair I’ve made following Regina Satta’s pattern Jeck. Stripey socks on feetI really like it as it has a bit of pattern on alternate rows. The purl stitches each side of the slipped stitches help those slipped ones stand out. This pair were made from one 100g ball of Regia sock yarn (the colour design is Vermont) and I just started the second sock as soon as the first one was finished. They don’t need to be identical as you can see here on the heels.

 Stripey socks on feet and right heel     Stripey socks on feet and left heel

I was very keen to try out Geek Socks by Wei Siew Leong (aka KiwiPurler who blogs here).  I thought that this stripy yarn would work perfectly … until I started knitting. The black stripes were not clearly defined – in some rounds I had blotches of dark grey or black appearing before the black stripe. The notion of playing with the stripes still appealed, however, so I slipped alternate stitches in the first round of black (starting k1 sl1, k1 sl1) and in the first round of the following colour with (sl1 k1, sl1 k1), which gave me dotted black lines. striped handknit socks close-upBecause I started the toe exactly where a new colour began, I was able to make an identical second sock.

striped handknit socks     striped handknit socks side view

This yarn, incidentally, is ALDI yarn! ALDI discount stores are now trading in several countries. In Germany, there are yarn or craft specials several times a year. Sock yarn is probably available twice if not three times. It is always packed in bags of 4 x 50g balls (with a set of five cheap 2.5mm DPNs) , usually two balls are plain and two are striped or patterned. The yarn comes from Max Gründl/Four Seasons Gründl or more recently Vendita (which seems to be a subsidiary company) and is as hard-wearing as Regia. Unfortunately, there were no such specials during my European trip. This yarn was already in my stash.

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More European Knitting

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There were times when I was by myself in Cologne so of course I cracked on with some knitting and not just socks and shawls. I had to buy some more grey for the Lizard Ridge blanket (pattern by Laura Aylor) I’ve started. I am now on my 28th pair of socks which sounds like quite a few pairs but really isn’t enough when it comes to leftovers. This was easily remedied, however, as you can buy Regia sock wool in local department stores and Lana Grossa’s Meilenweit (similar yarn) in many local yarn shops.

Here are the pieces I managed during our European trip. Some of them were knitted during the car journey to and from the north of Germany to see Mr Soknitsome’s sister. Mr Soknitsome shares one trait with many Germans. He likes to drive fast on the Autobahn. When he does that, I like to concentrate on my knitting!

Blanket squares - grey and pink stripes Blanket squares -grey and green stripes

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European Knitting

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The five weeks I spent in Europe were lovely. Time passed quickly and although I (and later Mr Soknitsome, too) spent time with many family members and friends, there were, sadly, people we didn’t get to see.

One of the highlights at the start of my trip was the chance to join my old Stitch ’n’ Bitch group in Cologne. I had already cast on a TGV shawl a few days beforehand. It really was super simple knitting and perfect for chatting at the same time. The pattern had been given to me by a former member of the group, DianaGKnits. She felt it was perfect for Schoppel Zauberball (many of the projects on Ravelry use this) and we had once spent ages in a wool shop in Cologne choosing Zauberball colours.

I used Noro Taiyo which is a linen, silk, wool blend. Cool to work with in summer and quite soft. Noro yarns are good for a few colour surprises so I had already rewound the ball, checking for any joins and to make a note of the colour sequence.

After Stitch ’n’ Bitch I continued knitting on this sockStriped sock on knitting needles

and kept TGV for my trip to my parents in Edinburgh. I finished it there, which was perfect timing as Mr Soknitsome and I then travelled on to north Germany. It was pretty cold there and I was really glad to have a scarf to keep the draught out of the neck of my jacket!

The pattern includes some variations and I did the slightly pointier ends (in the ribbing section). I also used almost two-thirds for the garter section and one-third ribbing instead of half and half. I wanted to make the shawl a bit deeper and I think this worked.

Would I knit this again? Most definitely. This can worn as a scarf or small shawl. It’s truly reversible, it doesn’t need blocking and is a great project when you need some ‘mindless’ knitting!stripey shawl with ribbed ruffle

Leaving on a jet plane…

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Not quite but soon! The top of my Ravelry queue reflects that too. List of knitting projects

First up Jeck. I’ve used this pattern before for Strrripes! which were also a travel project: Stripes – the love affair continues and for Making Merry. It’s mindless but not so mindless that you go crazy. Every second round has a little bit of activity with a few stitches to be slipped or purled. I’ll be starting at the toe (as usual) and working up so I’ll use Wendy Johnson’s Gusset Heel. I’ll be travelling on planes and trains for over 24 hours so that’s a lot of knitting time. You get a lot of knitting hours out of a ball of sock yarn!

Grey and red ball of yarn

Second in the queue is TGV. I have a ball of Noro Taiyo  for this.

Ball of yarn pinks and browns

Again this is very straightforward knitting; the first half is a garter crescent followed by a two-by-two ribbed frill. It will be perfect for when I visit my old Stitch ‘n’ Bitch group in Cologne as I’m sure there will be lots of chatting! After that? Probably more socks. This journey is the first of several…

Wearing Lipstick

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Sydney isn’t all blue skies and sunshine. We’ve already had a few rather chilly days so I’m really pleased that I went ahead and knitted this cardigan. It’s Lipstick by Joji Locatelli and I’ve had my eye on it for a while but kept thinking that it was perhaps a little warm for this climate. Not so. Not so at all!Red cardigan - front

And I had seen some lovely yarn, so, well, how could I not knit it? After knitting 800 metres of laceweight yarn, this project in 10-ply/worsted/aran (depending on where you come from) grew at a most satisfying rate. Lipstick is an interesting mix of textures with twisted rib on the shoulders, mesh/lace blocks on the sleeves and smooth stocking stitch for the body. Even that isn’t tedious because the front panels are in reverse stocking stitch with a little twisted stitch in-between. The yarn is Morris and Sons Empire. It’s 100% merino and comes in lots of lovely colours, some of which like this red, are also available a ’twist’ variety of two different coloured plies.

I wanted to make changes to the original design and have long sleeves so for Yarn Management Purposes I knitted the button bands and neckband before doing the sleeves.  This was an excellent idea as ‘pick up and knit’ is always my least favourite bit about cardigans. This time I got them out the way and could look forward to more interesting knitting. This cardigan is seamless and I had joined for the underarms at a length that made the armholes two sizes larger so that I could be sure of wearing clothes underneath. So I then picked up the corresponding number of stitches for that size. I shortened the knitted the mesh/lace blocks by half-an-inch and then switched to stocking stitch. I decreased in that first round and then twice more after 8 rounds and then every six rounds until I almost reached wrist length. I finished with the rows of ribbing as in the pattern.

Since this only needs four buttons, I chose something special. These are printed coconut buttons and came from this lovely button shop, Buttons Buttons Buttons down at The Rocks. I was there for ages with my cardigan lying on a glass cabinet while I tried various options. The red colour is actually a bit tricky to match so I also considered various metal buttons – modern and traditional – before choosing these.close up buttons on red cardigan

This cardigan is the second one of Joji’s designs that I’ve made and, once again, as with my Neon cardigan, the pattern was a pleasure to knit from. It was easy to follow. There are references with stitch counts so you can check you’re on track. Instructions are clear – for example “repeat rows 3 to 6 two more times”. That more certainly avoids any ambiguity. Abbreviations are clearly explained (e.g. m1l or m1r). I’m sure I’ll be knitting more of Joji’s designs in the future but for now I’m going to enjoy wearing lipstick!

red cardigan - back

Red cardigan - side view

A little bit of magic

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This is MagicWaves by Kieran Foley. He describes it as “A large innovative lace pattern inspired by the rippling surface of the sea”.

blue lace wrap with sea in background

I used Manos del Uruguay Lace yarn. This is a luxurious blend of alpaca, silk and cashmere and it was lovely to knit with. There’s a neat connection between this yarn and its production and the purpose of this project. Manos del Uruguay is a non-profit organisation that brings economic and social opportunities to rural women and this shawl is destined to help more women when it is raffled by the American International Women’s Club of Cologne (AIWCC) to raise funds for local women’s projects.

Depending on the light, you see the waves in the pattern

blue lace wrap with sea in background

or focus more on the blue tones.

blue lace wrap on garden seat    blue lace wrap with Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge

Of course, an accessory like this should be worn, too!

blue lace wrap loose over shoulders

 

blue lace wrap around shoulders
blue lace wrap looped around neck

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fingers crossed this shawl will live up to its name and work a little magic!

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Socks to brighten the doomiest day

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So we headed up to the Blue Mountains hoping to see some autumn colour but the day was wet and misty.

trees in mist

This photo shows part of the Blue Mountains Botanic Garden, Mount Tomah. We had a walk, sticking to the tarred and woodchip paths.

There was some colour – two beds of lovely dahlias.dahlias foreground trees in mist backgroundAnd here’s another splash of colour

bright striped socks on feet

These are my Socks to Brighten the Doomiest Day, knitted from Lana Grossa’s Meilenweit 6-Fach. This was given to me as part of a leaving present by my dear friend A. The pattern is Wendy D Johnson’s Sport Weight Toe-Up Socks with Gusset Heel.

Since the colours repeat back on themselves before moving on, I decided to knit the second one so that I’d have one of the centre colours (blue and purple) across each foot.  bright striped socks on feet - side view

The fit is not quite perfect but my Ravelry project page has notes to remind me of changes for next time!

 

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