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.

New Year’s Resolutions are doomed from the start

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There I’ve said it. Admittedly, that’s a bit of a sweeping statement but how many of the resolutions and good intentions that are made at the start of the year still hold true by the end?

Less is more. Or rather, concentrating on fewer projects at one time leads to satisfyingly quicker results and can be more efficient, too. Especially if you have to ‘find’ your way back into a project that’s been lying dormant for a while. With this in mind, here are my plans for thoughts on project management for this year:

I intend limiting myself to:

something straightforward for social knitting,

a larger or more complex project, and

a small travel project.

When I take part in knit alongs they will be to make one of these items and not an excuse to start another project.

So what happens now?

There are still secret projects to be completed. These will have to count collectively as my larger project for just now as they are unsuitable for social knitting.

My small travel project will be a sock for a knit along (more on that soon).

That just leaves the social knitting. Well, funnily enough, whenever I’ve been at a gathering recently that involved knitting I took my  Ley Lines shawl. It really deserves to be finished. I started it in a moment of folly back in the spring when  knitting two shawls as part of a KAL seemed like a very achievable goal. Then I got distracted by more knit alongs and secrets and…

So here it is, growing longer and longer, and I still have a quarter of the yarn to go. I really hope I can block some width into it. It’s a shame that this shawl has been neglected somewhat since whenever I pull it out of the bag, I’m always pleased to hold it in my hands and knit it again. It should be finished soon, too, if I keep to my plans!  lilac shawl

What a su-purl-ative Saturday!

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The second Saturday of the month is when the Inner City group of the Knitters’ Guild NSW meets. This month’s meeting was a little different as Lyn and I were convening the meeting for the first time. Having expressed an interest in the position prior to the AGM, we found ourselves nominated by default since many members have already done a stint and were happy for someone else to take a turn. The Inner City group has about 80 members but many are unable to attend every month so we were probably only speaking in front of about 30 odd knitters and crocheters. We don’t just get together to socialise over our knitting and crochet. The Guild’s constitution states that the object of the Guild is to

  • encourage and maintain high standards in design and techniques
  • provide a forum for the exchange and provision of information
  • provide the opportunity for education in the craft

With these aims in mind, we had a bit of a brainstorm and came up with suggestions for talks and skills/techniques development for the coming year. We also collected lots of other excellent suggestions from members and now have the task of putting together an interesting and varied programme for 2016.

After the Guild meeting the knitting fun continued…

The Thursday night knitting group traditionally goes for afternoon tea in December. So we hopped on a train and travelled down to Circular Quay to enjoy a delightful tea at the Sir Stamford Hotel.  Not having knitted enough already, we were working away on our projects before we’d even had a sip of bubbly!

red yarn skein

There were fourteen of us and we were seated around one large table in a private room which was great for chatting. Thanks to Kelly, the organiser, there was some lovely Christmas fun and games with ‘guess the yardage’ of an anonymous skein, a lucky draw, and a Secret Santa Skein Swap. Here’s the lovely yarn I came home with.

This is a hand-dyed skein from Hawthorne Cottage Yarns. It’s a 4-ply wool/nylon blend that feels sturdy enough for some great socks. But the reds are so stunning that perhaps it should be a little something for around a neck? Choices, choices!

Whilst having tea, we even came up with a more appropriate name for our Thursday group. We’re easier to find now on Ravelry – we’re the Sydney CBD Knitters. So if you’re ever in Sydney on a Thursday evening, come on by!

You did Ann Budd’s workshop; you can fix that!

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When my friend S asked me last week what else I was working on, I told her I was still knitting my Ley Lines shawl but omitted to mention that I was also working on something for her birthday! I had chosen a looped scarf with a light and airy texture, that could be worn loosely or twisted into a snug cowl.

It took me three attempts to get 250 stitches neatly on my needles. I worked the first three rows flat and then joined in the round. I was quite surprised that the stitches were so bunched up on my circular needle and was happy I hadn’t gone for the larger 350-stitch version. Unfortunately, I didn’t give this excess the attention it required. I carried on knitting. I was well into the first lace section before I realised that when I evened out the stitches on the needle, they were… twisted! Pulse racing, I smoothed the stitches back the other way along the needle. There was no denying it. I had a twist in my loop. I didn’t know if I felt faint or sick at the thought of having to begin again.

I searched Ravelry but (as I already knew deep down) there was only one outcome. I would have to start again.

Loath to ‘give in’, I decided to attempt a fix. close up grey lace cowlSpurned on by the ease with which we’d dropped rows of stitches and picked them up during Ann Budd’s workshop at KnitCamp,* I dropped a stitch each side of the join down to the border. I worked the twist along to the join and wound the knitting so that the twist was over the bars of the two dropped stitches. Then I knitted the two stitches up again and continued as if nothing had ever happened! Here’s the knitted-up twist before the cast-on edges was sewn together. Funnily enough, when I recounted my (mis)adventure at Guild** on Saturday, I was met with “You did Ann Budd’s workshop at camp; surely you could fix that!”

Here’s the cowl finished and blocked. The pattern is called Cool Breezes and there are full details on my Ravelry project page.

grey lace cowl

And here we are out for lunch with a view on S’s birthday. It was so hot (35°C) that the cowl was worn for photographic purposes only!two women near sea

* Find out what Ann Budd taught us at KnitCamp 2015 – the best bits
** Inner City meeting of the Knitters’ Guild of New South Wales

I’m so excited

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…but I have to hide it!

I’m currently working on several lovely projects.

  • I have charts, linen fabric, gold needles and hand-dyed threads.
  • I have patterns, local yarn, DPNs and circular needles.

I’m not making any Christmas surprises so there won’t be any sharing until after the occasions and that will be well into the new year.

However, I can show you this Australian-dyed yarnball of grey yarn

Once the item’s dry, I’ll be able to share some photos and a truly heart-stopping moment! More soon…

You win some…

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You lose some. Or so I thought, when I reflected that I had completed and surpassed the challenges I’d set myself for the sock KAL with the Aussie Sock Knitters group, but failed by half a shawl in Joji Locatelli’s Fall Knit Along.

Sometimes I talk (and write) utter rubbish! In my last post I commented that there was only a fortnight left for each of the knit alongs I was taking part in. Apart from waxing lyrical on the joys of the sock KAL, I was a bit too optimistic about finishing my Ley Lines shawl. To make matters worse, I bluntly stated that

It doesn’t require too much concentration (any mistakes stand out immediately) so it’s excellent social knitting, too.

Here’s where pride comes before a fall.

I had the feeling that there was something a bit off with one of my sections. But however closely I looked (and it obviously wasn’t close enough), I couldn’t figure out where I’d gone wrong, so I knitted on. But gone wrong I had. I had forgotten one increase. While that might not sound like much, it disturbed the aesthetics of those lines. And I knew it would always annoy me.lilac shawl with arrow and text

So I looked even more closely and jabbed in a needle to help me count down each row. Sure enough, I’d forgotten an increase in what felt like seventy million rows below. Despite the neat tricks I learnt from Ann Budd at KnitCamp on fixing errors, I decided to rip back. The mistake was in a section which had increases on one side and decreases on the other and I could see myself ending up with something wrong elsewhere.

lilac yarn balls with arrows and text

Now I’m good to go again. And the best part? The knit along doesn’t finish until the end of November so Ley Lines might even be finished in time!