All for Archibald – speed, fudges and frantic finishing

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Or the story of what happens when you decide on a Thursday that 440 metres of yarn should be a shawl by the following Tuesday…

This purple yarn

 ball of purple yarn

goes very well with this fabric.

bright flowers, red, purple and blue

This purple yarn used to be a scarfy-kind-of-wrap that went very well with this dress.

bright flower dress

But the scarfy-kind-of-wrap grew longer and skinnier and I frogged it, intending to knit a shawl instead.

**********

Fast forward a year and you get to where I was last Thursday – the moment when it dawned on me that I really did need that purple yarn to be a shawl by Tuesday*.

The yarn is Lana Grossa Puntino, a sport-weight/5-ply cotton, and I thought it would be perfect for a Daylily Shawl by Judy Marples (spinnyknitter). I admit to having felt slightly anxious at the prospect of knitting a lacy shawl in under a week. I decided to compromise and knit a shawl with a stocking stitch body and a lace border. So off I went. I cast on and followed the shaping for Daylily. It’s a semi-circular shawl which should stay put quite nicely.  I knitted as fast as my fingers would move.  Forget enjoying the process or the ‘journey’; this was simply a race to the finishing line cast off!

Sometime on Saturday, after I’d knitted three ‘blank’ repeats, I began to feel uneasy about the whole project. Daylily Shawl has its own border and here I was wanting to do a panel of daylilies and then what? I thought the shawl would end up looking bitty if I had a section of stocking stitch, followed by some daylily vines and then finished with the more solid border of the pattern. What I needed was a straightforward lacy edge. Thankfully, inspiration struck… Haruni!  Many people have modified the pattern and knitted a stockinette body with the flower edging but Emily Ross has written up Stockinette Haruni as a separate pattern.

So I’d reached the home stretch. Or had I?

My shawl was a semi-circle, and Stockinette Haruni is triangular. I decided to omit the larger flower at the centre and just work the other pairs all round. I did a sneaky decrease to get an even number, and cracked on with the flowers.

Eleven rows later, and it was clear that Something Was Not Right. One front point was growing into a flower and the other on wasn’t! Close examination of the pattern instructions revealed I had failed to account for three stitches (marked helpfully in yellow) that should mark the other point. I.e. knit the repeats and then knit the yellow squares once more. Sometimes more haste does mean less speed. Time to rip back. Oh were those rows long. And I needed to ‘find’ three extra stitches. Time for a little fudge!

Fortunately, attempt two was straightforward on the knitting front, but my yarn was decreasing at a rather alarming rate. This called for more fudging. I stopped the increase rows one row short and then jigged the first decrease row to account for my petals being narrower but the spaces in-between being as stated. I carried on knitting. With the final row completed, I needed to deviate from the pattern again. I replaced  the multiple-stitch decreases and chain loops with a stretchy cast off.

My yarn had kinks from its former life and there were uneven stitches, particularly in the body of the shawl. But it’s winter here and I believe cotton can take a while to dry. I decided to try a steam pressing first and see whether I liked the result. Thankfully, I did. Just stretching the fabric with my fingers while applying the steam iron evened out the knitting to such an extent that I was confident I could make the flowers look good too. I went for a smooth edge and just opened up the flowers, one by one.

So when did I finish? Monday! So yes, you can decide on a Thursday to knit over 400 metres of yarn into a shawl to be worn the following Tuesday… but it’s not something I’d generally recommend!

purple lace shawl bright flower dress with purple shawl front view

* Why Tuesday? Tuesday was the day I was attending a so-called Archibald Dinner. A special event at the Art Gallery of New South Wales with a private viewing of the finalists for the Archibald, Wynne and Sulman prizes. You can read more about these prestigious prizes here.

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Hot off the needles for some winter warmth

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comes my new cardigan. This is Golden Rye, my version of “Rye” by Thea Colman (Ravelry user name babycocktails).

Close up side textured cardigan

I was asked by a friend if I’d made “a few” modifications to the pattern (she had this blue cardigan in mind where I made a heck of a lot of changes!) Yes, there are some modifications but only a few ;) :

  • I wanted an in-between size to give me the suggested ease so I added eight stitches to the width and knitted the body without the waist shaping.
  • I wanted the cardigan to be longer.
  • The sleeves are full length and a bit wider than in the pattern. I increased every eight rows until I was just short of the next size and then knitted straight. I knitted the sleeves flat to avoid the twist I seem to get when knitting them in the round and to maintain the tension/gauge.
  • Button placement – I made more buttonholes to prevent the fronts from gaping. I may have overdone it slightly but I intensely dislike gaping fronts so I’d rather have too many than not enough!

Why did I choose this pattern?

  • I needed another warm jumper or cardigan. This is perfect for outdoors as a jacket replacement on sunny winter and spring days and keeps me warm and snuggly indoors when the temperatures drop.
  • The texture appealed to me and I had bought some suitable yarn in a LYS sale.
  • Once again, I liked the idea of knitting the button bands at the same time.

front view textured cardiganCriticism?

  • There were no other projects on Ravelry bar Thea Colman’s own. She designed this cardigan for Berroco. I usually wait until there are more projects. Since her other patterns have had test knitters and people seem very happy with the patterns and how they’re written, I decided to go ahead anyway.
  • My buttonholes look further away from the edge than those in the photos. However, as I had already done two (following the pattern instructions) before I realised this, I continued. It’s still winter here and the idea was to wear this cardigan soon.

Helpful hints

  • I worked the ribbing on 4.5 mm needles as it looked too sloppy on the 5 mm ones. The 4.5 mm needles are mentioned in the materials list but not anywhere in the pattern.
  • It’s important to pay attention to the blackberry pattern once the raglan decreases move into the textured panels! If you can’t “make 3” don’t decrease 3 together! Quite obvious but easy to forget, particularly if you’re chatting and knitting at the same time. I had to undo several rounds due to too much nattering and not enough counting!

back view textured cardiganYarn used?

  • I made my cardigan from Shepherd’s Own by FibraNatura. It’s a lovely undyed sheepy wool that comes with flock numbers instead of dye lots! It was lovely to work with and had no knots in any of the 100g skeins.
  • I bought my yarn at Morris and Sons, Sydney. It was a really good deal in the winter sale but according to Ravelry this yarn has been discontinued.

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

  • Yes, I probably would. I think it would be easy to replace the blackberry stitch sections with differently textured panels to give a similar but different look.
  • The pattern was very easy to follow. I enjoyed knitting this bottom-up. It seemed less bulky than top-down since you’re on the decreasing rows for the raglan shaping once you have piles of knitting in your lap.
  • Even if I don’t knit another, I will certainly take a closer look at the rest of Thea’s patterns.
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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

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