Friday, 25 February 2011

Something fishy

Fishy Hat

Often I plan patterns, but upon stitching, they do not turn out how I'd hoped. They'll be too small, too big or the pattern will be stretched out in some way that doesn't display it the way that I'd hoped. Fishy Hat is the second hat I tried to make for a friend. The first - which was to have curling cables and be made of squishy Malabrigo Worsted, fell by the wayside when I realised that I hadn't planned how to do the decreases properly, and had started them too early - ending up with more of a scull cap than an ear covering hat. For my second attempt, I decided I wanted to have a go at stranded colourwork, and the Whale Watch Hat from New England Knits caught my eye.

But I didn't have lots of different colours of yarn, and really I wanted to make a beanie not a beret. So I looked up some simple beret patterns, realised that I had eight inches or so of the same number of stitches before decreases and then found a knitting chart. Armed with the fill bucket on paint, I set about creating my pattern.

Fishy Hat

I decided to have 80 stitches in the round, which would be subdivided into a repeated pattern of 20 stitches. I decided to have a zig-zag along the bottom and then some squares and pluses. I was in an irregular mood, so I made it so that they did not fit exactly into the zig-zag. Then the whales from the Whale Watch Hat, which I squished together into 20 stitches. Originally, I was intending to have two rows of whales, facing opposite directions. However, once I'd done the first row of whales, I was already at 5 inches and decided for space reasons that a single row of whales would be fine.

Above that I did a dividing line, and then the fish! I spent quite a lot of time looking at other colourwork charts of fish, before making up my own. Now I wonder if I should have made the fish bigger  - it is a little unclear what they are. However, in comparison to the whales, these are HUGE fish. Above that I did a triangle pattern to look a bit like waves.

To finish off with (and because I hadn't charted a pattern for the decreases), I decided to do stripes of grey and blue while decreasing. I like how they turned out.
Fishy Hat

The blue and grey yarn came from random stash diving. The blue is Palette Vintage in Enamel left over from the Skaði Fingerless gloves I made last December. This is the yarn that goes on and on - I bought three skeins to make the gloves. Used one skein. Since then I've used it to make various squares on my blanket, as well as this hat. I still have one and a bit skeins left. It's soy and wool, so is shiny and pretty. The grey is the Debbie Bliss Fez left over from the swatch I made from the Fairfield Cardigan, so it has camel hair and merino, fluffy and soft. They make a good pair.

Anyway, I've sat on this pattern for a few days and finally given it to its recipient (after a Bible study on Jonah no less, not planned but quite apt), and I still like it. I'm still very happy with it - the whales and the fish are just  so cheerful, and the colours, despite being bought a year apart with very different intentions in mind, work so well together.

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Following a pattern verbatim

Following a pattern verbatim - as is written - is not something that I do very often. As I have become more confident in my knitting and crocheting skills, I'm much more inclined to look at a pattern and decide the bits that I like and ignore the bits that I don't. So I'll take a stitch pattern from one place and incorporate it into a different style cardigan, as I did with Lila, or I'll just knit the lace from a larger pattern, as I did with the Red Scarf or I'll take some colourwork and incorporate it into a different design, as with the Fishy Hat (to be blogged). I enjoy the creative and problem-solving processes that go behind taking design elements that I like from one pattern, and incorporating them into something that suits what I want to make.

In some ways, that makes me a bad pattern follower - I normally look at charts and stitch patterns, and work out construction from there so I don't have to worry about following someone else's logic for construction. In a bid to get better at this, and because I happened to have a spare ball of the yarn specified in the pattern, I decided to make the Brattleboro Hat from the frequently mentioned book on this blog, New England Knits (from the frequency that I mention this book, you could guess that I don't have any other knitting books. In some ways, this is correct - I have 'Knitting in Plain English' which only has three patterns, a cardigan heavy copy of 'Knitscene', and KAL Media's 'Knitting Collection', these are great, but none have the winsome, inspiring beauty of New England Knits).

I had a ball of Malabrigo Worsted in Lettuce, bought from Twist Yarns. Lettuce is an interesting colour - the name is apt. You could imagine it adorning a salad. It's bright and cheerful, and just a little bit garish. But it complements my Knotty gloves magnificently, so that's why I chose to make the hat out of it.

Brattleboro Hat

As I mentioned in a previous post, my Green Hat ended up a little too small. The Brattleboro Hat (and I've worn it almost every day since I finished it about 2 weeks ago), is the perfect size. By which I mean that it covers my ears. For me, the whole function of a hat is for it to cover my ears. They are what I want to keep out of the wind.

Brattleboro Hat

I have an exciting button tin, full of buttons inherited from my Mother/Grandmother/Great-Aunt. I tried several of the buttons with the hat, but in the end I decided to go with some left over blue buttons from the Esmée Cardigan. I think that they tie the hat in with my blue scarf and teal gloves.

Brattleboro Hat

These pictures depict a slightly crumpled hat - that is because it has been balled up in my pocket all week, not pristine and straight from the needles. Anyway, I have now completed my triumvirate of hat-scarf-gloves so most of the projects I have worked on since then have been for other people.


Tuesday, 22 February 2011

I forgot a colour.

Blue scarf.

Blue scarf is a hybrid. A crossbreed. A mongrel. At first glance, you think that it is just one pattern. A comforting popular pattern. Kernel from Knitty. Look there are the kernels. Then you realise that this was the first lace project that this crafter made, and that the kernels aren't always kernels, the yarn overs are misplaced and sometimes there are extra k2togs.

And upon further inspections you find that there is a join. Hastily, messily stitched, this kernelly scarf has been attached to another.



This other scarf seems to be someone's second lace project. Some representation of Nancy Pegora Merino Lace Scarf. Cruelly stitched to the Kernel until the join breaks.

Nancy Pygora Merino Scarf, not in Pygora Merino

But beloved. This is the scarf style mentioned in my previous post on the red scarf. You can button it up and push the end of the scarf in the gaps and it's perfectly warm. The Easyknits Skinny Semi-solid is a great blend of muted colour, warmth with being cloying and stitch definition. And it's grace to embrace our mistakes  -two scarves that ended up too small, stitched together into a wonderfully functional item.

Saturday, 19 February 2011


This is the yarn that I want to use to make a shawl. Wollmeise 80/20 Sockenwolle in We're Different Pfefferminz Prinz. But first I have to wind it. I have an armchair, which has the perfect back size for winding (much better than using tuna tins or glasses to wrap the yarn round) but 500 yards is still intimidating.


Thursday, 17 February 2011

It's all about colours here.

Two of my projects show that if you can't think of a name for it, then a colour will do.

Finished Red Scarf:



And Green Hat.


Green Hat is an old project. And considering that I've only been knitting properly since the summer, old means that I made it in the autumn. It is made from Madelinetosh DK in Jade in the Sarah pattern. Yes, I did find that hat pattern through searching for my own name. But as a pattern, it perfectly fitted what I wanted to make at that time. But even though it perfectly fitted what I was trying to make, it doesn't perfectly fit so has been replaced.


The yarn is lovely. I could stare at it all day. Unfortunately, as a hat, it doesn't cover my ears. Covering my ears is all that I want from a hat. So instead, I've made myself a Brattleboro Hat from New England Knits. And to continue the hat theme, I've just finished a 'fishy' hat - a stranded design with whales and fish on it. As before, I'm waiting for a sunny day to photograph these hats, but when I do then I will post them up.

In the meantime, I think I've found the yarn I'm going to use to make the Fairfield Cardigan. Debbie Bliss Fez. It has the same make-up as Kumara - 15% camel, 85% merino, but I think it has a different construction - Kumara is cable-plied  whereas as far as I can tell, Fez is just plied 3 strands together. Anyway, I ordered a ball of Fez in grey, made a swatch and it's got the right gauge, and more importantly, I like knitting with it. I've decided that I don't want to make a cardigan in grey, but I think teal might be more my colour - I used to have a cardigan in teal that I loved, so am summoning up the courage to purchase a lot of Fez.

In the meantime, I'm thinking about cracking out my last skein of Wollmeise, which is in We're Different Pfefferminz Prinz, to make a shawl for a friend's birthday. Multnomah is currently leaping out to me as a possible pattern. I've also had a few more ideas for crocheted garments, so I might me cracking out the hooks soon and making up some swatches. Submitting for publication at the moment however, is stalled because of final year study - I don't want to be doing university work and crocheting to deadlines.

Sunday, 6 February 2011

The Red Scarf

I've been waiting until the light is good enough so I can finish off taking pictures of the red scarf. I have waited a week, and this has not happened, so I can going to post what pictures I have got. Lesson: next sunny day, take pictures of anything that I have knitted or crocheted to provide content for this blog, or else I'll have to crack out a few more salt marsh pictures.

Anyway, the red scarf is the first thing I have made from New England Knits. I didn't knit it from the book verbatim, instead, I stole the leaf lace panels from the Ashfield Cardigan and made them into a scarf. It has a six stitch 1x1 rib at each edge, and then I just worked the panels as charted in the pattern next to each other, presenting a branching effect. Rather than make a full length scarf, I decided to make it a third of normal length and finish off with buttons. I am especially enamoured with this length of scarf at the moment, as you can button up the scarf to fit your neck and then slip the loose end round your neck to double up the warmth, or display the loose end down your front. The real advantage of this length of scarf is that you can slip it in the pocket of a coat, without ending up with huge bulges from the balled up scarf.


I particularly love the buttons on this scarf. I bought them in the summer from a little craft shop in Minehead which, despite its unassuming exterior, always seems to have a couple of seriously beautiful buttons. I thought that I had lost them some time between purchase and returning home from Somerset, but I found them a few weeks ago - just in time for my 'RED' project, which they suit perfectly.


The RED is from Wollmeise Sockenwolle 80/20 in shade 'Vamp'. It is very red - described as Ferrari red, and indeed, a colour that is so bright that it is difficult to find a suitable project for it. In the end, I decided that mini-scarfs are the best way to show off the yarn - a little flash of colour in a full outfit. It also lets me get best use out of the yarn - 'Red Scarf' is the second mini-scarf that I've made from the skein.

This post is also about the wonders of blocking. I don't think I've ever really appreciated blocking - I have always been very tentative with my blocking, using lukewarm water and barely letting the project touch the water before extracting it, scared that prolonged exposure to water would mean that my project lost all its colour/felted/would never get dry. This time however, I used fairly hot water and pushed the yarn down until it was all wet so that no bubbles came out. Well, the result was wonderful. It went from having a fairly scrunched up look, as below:
To the lovely flat example in the previous picture, which I took straight after blocking. As soon as there is good light, I will endeavour to take a picture of the completely finished project!

Also, just on a blog note. Thank you Rebekah from Michigan for alerting me that the comments didn't work. I'm sorry that I hadn't realised that there was a problem. I've done some fiddling, and hopefully it is now fixed!

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