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!

 

Yarn today, sock tomorrow

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A slight exaggeration… but not much of one.ball of bright striped yarn

I can see why people enjoy knitting socks out of 6-ply/sport weight sock yarn. It makes for very satisfying and speedy results!

This is Meilenweit 6-Fach from Lana Grossa. It’s a typical wool and nylon blend for knitting socks.

And here’s a sock. I’m using Wendy D Johnson’s pattern, Sport Weight Toe-Up Socks with Gusset Heel (Ravelry link to free pattern).

 

sock of bright striped yarn

A bit of a sock as light relief

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Sometimes you need something a little simpler. This sock has been knitted on at knit night, and on buses. I’ve even knitted a bit at home, too, when the lights were dimmed and I didn’t want to concentrate on lace work in a dark lace weight yarn.

This is my upside down Primavera Sock. The pattern is written cuff-down but I started at the toe. Why? I like knitting socks toe-up. When I first began knitting socks I was drawn to the idea of being able to try them on as you go. This has turned out to be a good thing. I knit socks on skinny 2mm (US 0) needles and only need 60 stitches to get a snug but not tight sock. Sometimes I have to fiddle with a pattern. Here I switched the decreases and increases to keep the directional shape of the design as it kind of grows up your foot.

The greenish section came as a bit of a surprise.

stripy textured sock close-up

I thought I was knitting something similar to the pale lilac but lo and behold in daylight it looks quite different. I’ve been knitting from the centre of the ball and from the outside it looks like this:wool ball red orange lilac

Its partner clearly shows this green and I had looked inside both balls to check that they were the same colours when I bought them.wool ball red orange green

It appears, too, that the colour sequence is now reversing. This could be a very interestingly striped pair of socks!

stripy textured sock on needles

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
*PLEASE NOTE THIS IS NOT A PAID ENDORSEMENT BUT A PERSONAL RECOMMENDATION.
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