The biggest WIP

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stripy blanket squares laid out for sewing togetherWell the end is certainly in sight! I have knitted all 56 pieces of the Lizard Ridge blanket I started 18 months ago.

Mr Soknitsome offered a while back to arrange the pieces for me when it came to putting the blanket together. I’d laid the pieces out in piles of matching or closely matching blocks. Mr Soknitsome’s a mathematician and after counting various piles and discovering that nothing worked exactly with the finished size of seven rows by eight columns, I was sent out the room while he figured out a different system…

I got called back in to see the blocks laid out in colours with the few lighter ones towards the centre. Needless to say, I’m very pleased with the result.

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Well-travelled stripes

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Older Soknitsome Daughter sent this yarn to me from Munich via Mr Soknitsome’s suitcase last January.Ball of yarn

In March it accompanied me to Europe and spent the weekend in Munich with Older Soknitsome Daughter and her then fiancé. I knitted about half a foot. The project was laid aside for others until it was time to head off to Europe again. Red striped socksThere was some knitting-on-a-plane between Cologne and Salzburg and even a spot of knitting during some downtime in Salzburg, where we spent a long weekend for Older Soknitsome Daughter’s wedding. By the time I left Cologne to head back to Sydney, the toe of the second sock was cast on. I finally finished these at knit night yesterday.

I’ve knitted stripey socks like these before. The pattern’s Magic Zauberball Stripe Socks by Tofutrulla and you knit alternating 5-round stripes from yarn with long colour changes. This yarn is Lana Grossa Meilenweit Magico which is very similar to Schoppel Zauberball. Last time, I actually broke the yarn and moved on a bit whenever the two colours got too close. This time, I either swapped anyway or knitted 10 rounds in the same colour so I have some blurred stripes but the overall effect is similar. Naturally there were fewer ends to sew in, too.

So what’s next? Continue with the cardigan I started in Europe, cast on my ‘social knitting’ project and of course some more socks!

Last but one

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Since I arrived back in Sydney last month I’ve been working very hard to complete the Final Secret Project. It’s finished but still a secret for now.

striped blanket square

When the light’s not been good enough to work on that I’ve been knitting some more pieces for the Lizard Ridge blanket I started almost 18 months ago. The end is in sight. I have one more piece to finish and then comes the major job of sewing them all together…

I’ve been really good and haven’t worked on anything else at the same time. Not the socks I started in Germany, not the cardigan I want to make for me.

yarn and patternHowever, it’s almost time to head off to the airport for another long-haul flight back to Germany. (That really makes me sound like I’m some kind of jet-setter when it’s just been how family events have turned out). I’m looking forward to some serious knitting time. I have that sock I started and I have a new cardigan to cast on! The sock is a Magic Zauberball Stripe sock but I’m using a Lana Grossa yarn that also has long colour stripes.

The cardigan will be my third and final attempt project with this lovely black yarn with flecks of red and blue in it.  The cardigan is knitted seamlessly but from the bottom-up. It’s an ideal travel project if you want something a bit more substantial since the sleeves are knitted separately and then joined to the body. Once you’re manoeuvring the whole garment in your lap you’ve only got a short way to go. There’s more to this story but I’ll cast on first!

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A Sunnyside for Easter

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When I flew to Germany late February, my travel knitting project was, surprisingly not a sock.

I thought I’d knit a cardigan instead. Well, a small cardigan. Having recently learnt how to cable without using a cable needle, this was the perfect opportunity to put my skills to the test. Sunnyside has cables down the fronts as well as at the raglan shaping. The yarn was an impulse buy in the first flush of ‘I’m going to be a Granny-ness’. It’s an acrylic-nylon blend, similar to Patons Big Baby but not as good. It was a bit splitty at times. However, the colour is just right for a baby in summertime and the cables show up nicely.

Cardigan in progressThe cardigan was easy to knit once I’d read a few helpful hints from other Ravellers and colour-coded my shaping markers. Red rings for Right-leaning increases and bLack rings for Left-leaning increases. After the set-up I could knit huge chunks without referring to the pattern. Just perfect when travelling.

Cardigan in progressThis is how far I’d got after two long-haul flights  (Sydney to Tokyo and Tokyo to Vienna).

I also followed what some other Ravellers have done and altered the direction of some of the cables (the pattern has them all going the same way) to make the cardigan symmetrical. 

Baby cardigan with cables and little pink buttons

The buttons were bought in Germany and  the cardigan was given a quick wash and laid flat to dry before handing over as an early Easter ‘egg’.

This project is here on Ravelry

 

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Some more of those secrets

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Here’s the second part of the big reveal where I can share some secret knitting now that Younger Soknitsome Daughter’s daughter has arrived.

Purple baby cardiganPlanning ahead I knitted a cardigan for a 12-month old child. Since a baby/toddler of that age is moving around and not lying still I thought that it would be more practical to have buttons all the way down. This avoids having cardigan fronts that can flap and get in the way. The pattern is a freebie from Ravelry: Little Avery by Taiga Hilliard Designs and it’s a seamless top-down knit. Like the little red jumper in the previous post, this is knitted in Australian machine washable wool from Bendigo Woollen Mills: Luxury 8-ply.

Purple textured baby blanket - flatThe biggest item I knitted was a baby blanket. This is Twinkle Twinkle Baby Blanket by Helen Stewart. I thought Younger Soknitsome Daughter might appreciate something she could use and wash with abandon rather than a more traditional lacy shawl or blanket that would need space and time for blocking after each wash.

Purple textured baby blanket - drapedYounger Soknitsome Daughter likes purple and as I wanted a unisex colour this yarn looked perfect. It’s another yarn from Bendigo Woollen Mills – a blend of wool and bamboo – and has a lovely sheen to it. I struggled slightly with the pattern as there was no way my swatches were blocking out to the size and tension of the pattern. (A common remark on projects is that this blanket turns out smaller than the original). I even knitted squares with various needle sizes and left them out for pondering while I knitted something else.  In the end, I went with the recommended needle size since I preferred the finished fabric.

Textured purple baby blanket - dryingTo replicate Younger Soknitsome’s laundry practice, I just hung the blanket over a drying rack and was very happy to see the final size after washing. It grew but without becoming loose and floppy. There are photos of the little one wrapped up in her blanket but these are my daughter’s pictures.

(Images link to Ravelry project pages)

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Some secrets are secret no longer

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Now that Younger Soknitsome Daughter’s daughter has arrived I can share some of my secret knitting. I’ve started updating my Ravelry project pages with photos.

Baby cardigan in whiteThe first item to be knitted was a white cardigan. White cardigans may not be very practical but doesn’t every newborn need a white cardigan? I think so. I chose a traditional classy looking cardigan, a French design, but just to be on the safe side knitted the 3 months size rather than newborn. This cardigan was knitted in Patons Australia Big Baby 4-ply, a very soft machine-washable blend of acrylic and nylon.

textured baby jumper in redAfter that I made a red jumper. Red is good for boys and girls. The pattern I chose is actually labelled as being  ‘boys’ sweaters and vest’ but I think textured sweaters are unisex. The pattern is a Sirdar one (there are lots of Sirdar paper patterns available as PDFs on Patternfish) and as such, traditionally written: knitted in pieces and seamed. I didn’t fancy seaming such a little knit in Dk/8-ply weight so I knitted in the round to the armholes then to and fro for the front and back. I did a three-needle-bind-off for the seamed shoulder and finished the one with button flaps as in the pattern.  I picked up stitches around the armholes for the sleeves and worked short rows for the sleeve caps. For this jumper I used Australian machine washable wool from Bendigo Woollen Mills. It’s lovely and soft, quite plump, perhaps slightly thicker than many 8-ply / DK yarns.

Green and white striped baby cardigan and hatThe third garment I made (well small clothes are just so lovely to knit) was a stripey cardigan in green and white. I used more of the Patons Australia Big Baby, holding the yarn double to replicate DK thickness. Strangely enough, the DK version of this yarn is not nearly as soft as the 4-ply. Once again I didn’t follow the pattern exactly. I didn’t slip the edge stitches as I prefer picking up stitches for button bands in the ratio of  3 for 4 stitches.  To turn the cardigan into an outfit I also made a striped hat but with thinner stripes.

Despite Soknitsome Granddaughter’s displeasure at being dressed and undressed I was keen to get a few photos so I could see how the garments fit in relation to their supposed size.

Baby wearing red jumper

Baby wearing white cardigan     Baby in green and white striped cardigan and hat

There are photos of her looking happier but these were usually when Younger Soknitsome Daughter was holding her and are not intended for publication.

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Fancy Feet

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There’s been some white Regia 4-ply in my stash for a while, waiting to be turned into the right pair of socks. Lace socks. Like these socks.

white lace socks

The pattern is Sprig by Wei Siew Leong (aka KiwiPurler who blogs here). Mine look a little bit different because I started them at the toes. I didn’t turn the chart upside down. The lace pattern works well viewed in both directions. The only slight difficulty I had was in reading my knitting. It was a little tricky to anticipate which round was next without referring back to the chart. Of course once the lace is stretched across a foot, it all becomes clear.

I knitted these socks as part of the Aussie Sock Knitters first knit along of the year: undiscovered gems (patterns with fewer than 20 projects). Now as far as I’m concerned this is really a gem of a design. In fact I think these would look beautiful in black (sharp intake of breath at thought of knitting lace in black yarn on 2 mm needles). A friend helpfully pointed out that knitting them in grey and dying them black might be better. I think she’s right.

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Some things get better the longer they take

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Four months ago, back in the days of spring, I cast on Joji Locatelli’s Ley Lines shawl as part of her Fall Knit Along.

I’ve admitted before I was overly ambitious in aiming to knit two shawls as part of the knit along so won’t dwell on any of that here. Suffice to say, as we draw closer to autumn here, I finally have a springtime-coloured shawl ready!

Ley Lines is a large asymmetrical shawl and the pattern cover shows Joji enveloped by its ribbing loveliness.  I think this is what attracted me to the pattern in the first place. It’s almost like buying into a lifestyle. I also thought it would be the perfect accessory when travelling.

This was a straightforward knit. Lilac-coloured shawlI did have a little trouble making the cast-on point look good so quickly followed helpful instructions from a fellow Raveler. After that it was plain sailing. Knit two, purl two, knit two, purl two, … (you get the picture) with increases or decreases to change the angle of the ribs in certain sections as well as to increase the size of the shawl. Ribbing is often used for its attribute of drawing knitted fabric in. My shawl grew longer and longer. It was far skinnier than I wanted. I was quite relieved to see that knitting friend S’s Ley Lines wasn’t any different to mine. We agreed we’d have to block them aggressively.

Lilac-coloured shawl wrapped on shoulders

So 845 metres of ribbing later, am I happy?

Yes, extremely.

Blocking Ley Lines has worked the magic I hoped it would. My shawl is now a lovely size for wrapping around me.

It’s light and airyLilac-coloured shawl spread wide

But you can still see the texture of the ribbing.

Lilac-coloured shawl wrapped on shoulders

 

I used yarn from Lana Grossa: Cool Wool Baby, 100% merino in 4-ply/fingering weight. Other details and links to helpful projects are on my Ravelry project page

The post I shouldn’t be writing

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Why?

Because right now Mr Soknitsome and I should be enjoying a holiday on Lord Howe Island, a UNESCO World Heritage Site of global natural significance, lying in the Tasman Sea between Australia and New Zealand.

So why aren’t we enjoying our holiday?

It’s not a question of enjoying ourselves – there’s simply no holiday!

Things started well. We took off on the 90-minute flight to Lord Howe Island last Friday. We’d almost reached the island and then the pilot had us in a holding pattern for a good 30 minutes waiting to see if the weather would improve. It didn’t so we flew to Port Macquarie for refuelling and landed back in Sydney 5 1/4 hours after take-off.

Worse was to come.

There was no flight available until Sunday morning. Saturday passed slowly. We couldn’t really settle to anything. We weren’t meant to be at home.

Up bright and early on Sunday morning we headed off to the airport for our 7 am flight. Boarding was delayed twice. Not a good sign. Mr Soknitsome had found detailed weather forecasts on the bureau of meteorology’s website indicating low cloud. At 8 am our flight and the following one were cancelled. The weather wasn’t expected to improve.

Worse was to come.

Airline staff were saying we might be able to fly out on Wednesday. Yes, five days into our week’s holiday, we might be able to fly…

Holiday cancelled.

Back at home in Sydney we grudgingly unpacked (we weren’t meant to be at home), and did some grocery shopping to fill the empty fridge (because we weren’t meant to be there).  

Ironically, the weather was lovely in Sydney so we walked over to Elizabeth Bay where we enjoyed an ice-cream and the view and tried not to complain about the holiday that wasn’t.View of sailing boats in harbour. Elizabeth Bay.

I even did some of my holiday knitting. I’d decided to make a few more pieces for the 4-ply weight Lizard Ridge blanket I’m making. Here’s what I knitted at the airport, on the flight, and on the beach by the sea…

Striped blanket squares

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Sometimes it’s the little things

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Last Saturday was a ‘Guild Saturday’. I love Guild Saturdays although at the moment there’s  still a certain amount of trepidation and lots of adrenalin as L and I are getting accustomed to being the ones running the meeting. Fortunately, we seem to have got off to a good start. This year’s programme includes offering a technique session or short talk at every meeting. Thankfully, there are many skilled and knowledgeable members who’re willing to share their expertise with others.

The first technique of the year was “cabling without a cable needle”. Yes, I know, many people can do this already. I’ve always got scared at the pull-the-needle-out-of-your-knitting bit and left well alone. I clearly wasn’t the only one as several Guild members had put their names down for this at the information-gathering session in December. The Inner City branch* is a wonderful group of knitters and crocheters and we had three members who kindly volunteered to show small groups the wonderful trick of cabling without having to use an additional needle. So we sat around the tables, shifting stitches, holding our breath and pulling out needles and, really, once you see someone do it in real life and have a go yourself, it isn’t that hard at all!

sample of knitted cables

J, who was teaching the group I was in, did point out that she found 6-stitch cables too wide and that really slippery or splitty yarns make the technique harder too.

I know exactly where this trick will come into its own – socks! Particularly, if like me, you knit socks on DPNs, not having to manipulate another little needle is a godsend.

Please excuse me while I browse cabled socks on Ravelry…

*The Inner City branch of the Knitters’ Guild NSW meets on the second Saturday each month. You can find out more about the Guild here.

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