Friday, 28 January 2011

What I'm meant to be doing

What I'm meant to be doing is writing my dissertation about the salt industry. As the photo below from the summer depicts, a salt evaporation pond in Guérande, France.


But the internet is more exciting, and the dissertation is daunting. So I am not.

Still waiting for nice sun. There was good sun today, but I was out over the middle of the day, so I couldn't take advantage of it.

Wednesday, 26 January 2011


For a day that isn't overcast so I can photograph my projects in decent light. My camera is small and needs lots of help. January days are not providing such help.

I have at least 1 pattern waiting for good light so I can take a picture of it. And another that I could publish, but I am currently on the fence about it. Some things work very well. But the main's just a bit ugly.

In the mean time, I'm meant to be writing my dissertation for uni. Creating patterns is much more exciting. I'm currently considering whether I would be able to make my regular hook into a Tunisian hook by sellotaping a straw to the end of it.

I haven't made a decision about the cardigan. I ordered three different colours of Malabrigo, but now they're here, none of them really fit what I'm looking for. I want something slightly semi-solid, that comes on long skeins, won't pill lots and possibly doesn't involve winding (although I managed to wind a ball without any problems last week, so perhaps I am getting better). Basically, an affordable UK version of Madelinetosh. I have weird dreams where I escape to academia in America (or Toronto) just so I can buy all the exciting American yarns without having to pay customs duty. doesn't look like it's happening soon (mainly because I've been a wimp and not applied to non-UK Masters courses), I'll have to remind myself that I'm lucky to have Rowan, Debbie Bliss, EasyKnits and Wollmeise easily accessible.

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Knitting a Cardigan

Ever since I started crocheting, creating the perfect garment has been the goal. With crochet, I think that the closest I have come to that, is with the Esmée Cardigan - but the jury is still out, I need to make up an Esmée for me rather than a tiny model before I can say that I've come close to achieving that far off goal.

Since I've started knitting therefore (if not before), making a cardigan has been the goal. I started small - with hats, scarves, gloves - projects where the end point is close so that the end didn't lose interest. However, I now think that I am ready to knit a cardigan, and am enjoying the fun (and frustrating) part of choosing a pattern, yarn and colour.

To cast the net wide, my first thought was that I ought to start with a proven pattern. Something that lots of people have made, that the photos on ravelry show suiting different body types (especially the chesty ones like me). A February Lady Sweater, perhaps, or a tea leaves cardigan, or an Amelia, or maybe an Ysolda Teague design - Liesl or a Coraline. Patterns which you only need to know the name to be able to picture them in your mind. None of them really captured my imagination.

Then I bought knitscene, and the general guilt about having to make something from a book that I had bought crept in. The essayist pullover is closest to what I would buy, but having made Knotty with ribbed cuffs, I wasn't sure if I could cope with making a whole ribbed garment. The loose simplicity of the Carrot cardigan also appealed, but the idea of knitting row upon row of stockinette makes me feel slightly comatose.

Then for Christmas, I asked for (and received) New England Knits, full of gorgeous sweater and cardigan pattners (and photography). Perused and pored upon for several days, I've finally decided that the Fairfield sweater is the pattern for me.

© Interweave

It's close enough in design to my favourite cardigan that I know that it will suit me, but also has some design interest to suggest it's not something I would be able to buy in a shop.

Now the problem is yarn. The asked for yarn is Classic Elite Kumara - a merino and camel mix. Unavailable in UK, and I don't want to pay customs charges so I won't be ordering it from US. Quince & Co Osprey is also suggested -also unavailable in UK - this is a 100% wool yarn, so it gives me ideas for substitution. I want a mainly wool substitute in aran or worsted weight. I'll need about 1300m, and ideally, I want to pay under £60. Any ideas?

At the moment, I'm thinking either Coldharbour Mill Aran - I love the story behind it, the skeins are large which is good for end-weaving. But the colours I can buy online are not really inspiring me, and if I do choose this route, then I'll probably have to buy direct from the mill. The alternative that I'm considering, is to use Malabrigo Worsted - a yarn beloved by many, also in large skeins but I'm worried that the single ply will equal much pilling. I've yet to find a shade that I love in a UK online yarn store so I'm still looking. If price were no option, I'd love to make it in Blacker Yarn's Pure Shetland Fawn Aran, but considering all the ends I'd have to weave in with a 60m skein, I don't think that it's worth it. I'm going to keep looking, and hoping that I stumble upon the right yarn!

Monday, 10 January 2011

Knotty Gloves, and Wollmeise

You may have noticed that photos of my gloves have a particular photographic style. And that the Idony gloves were published at the same time of year as the Skaði gloves. The photographic style is due to my brother being around at Christmas, and he is someone who actually knows how to operate a camera, rather than my 'point and shoot at someone with a pretty background'. The time of year is because the Idony gloves were a present for my Mum. I've reach the curious point in my crocheting adventures where I feel guilt if I follow a pattern. Something like fingerless gloves are so simple that I ought to be able to devise a pattern for them myself, rather than follow someone else's design. There are, however, a few fingerless glove designs that I intend to try once I get over this feeling of guilt - especially Aoibhe Ni Shuilleabhain's Dragon Skin Gaunlets (these also fall into the other area of crafting guilt - that I ought to be making things from the magazines that I own, last year's subscription to Inside Crochet means that I now have a whole magazine box full of patterns I have not made).

Anyway, back to Knotty. These were a gift to me. By me. I had bought a Wollmeise We're Different Sockenwolle 80/20 pack on a whim and in the heady rush of 'trying to get something Wollmeise before they all run out', in turquoise. With these packs, you aren't told which colours you are getting, just the colour family they fall in. These are also the yarns which have acted as guinea pigs, tests or don't quite match what they are meant to be. They are sold slightly cheaper than the basic colours, but you can't control which colours (aside from the colour family) that you get. I like Wollmeise - for the colour saturation, the length, the smell (I don't know what the smell is, but it's not at all sheepy) and that it is produced in Germany, meaning I can have it shipped to the UK without having to pay custom dues (what has put me off buying the Sanguine Gryphon's yarns). I ended up with two guinea pig yarns, variations on Vergissmeinnicht (Forget-me-not), which became Knotty and the Idony Gloves and Pfefferminz Prinz (which is variegated turquoise and green).

So I had some Wollmeise, but as with many rash yarn purchases, I didn't really have a pattern in mind. Thanks to Ravelry's pattern ideas function, I was able to look through what others had made and eventually settled upon Knotty.


Which is a pair of knitted gloves, which a large cable on the front. Much more advanced than anything I had tried before. I had done cables on the Brambles beret, but not to the extent that are on Knotty, and I had never dropped stitches and then picked them up again. However, undaunted, I bought myself some Addi circulars in the right size and started.

The cuffs were too big. I wanted to cry. Instead, I started again, casting on 52 stitches instead of sixty. This time they worked. When I got to the cable, I worked it on the first thirty stitches. I changed the size of the fingers to fit in with the smaller number of stitches (picked up 8sts front and back for index finger (16 total), 6 for middle and ring finger (12 total each) and remaining 12 for pinky). I think this probably meant that there were larger holes at the bottom of the fingers, but I filled these in with the waste yarn from joining on at the bottom. And more importantly, they fit and I didn't have to buy another needle!

I have waited to post until I've worn the gloves out and about for a bit. I still like them, they still hold up, they are warm. I'm not going to put them away in a cupboard. The only probably is the ends that had to be woven in - some of them are beginning to pop out.

A few months before buying the We're Different pack from Wollmeise, I had bought a single skein of Vamp. Vamp is red. Bright, unquestionably red. I hadn't known what to do with it. I'd tried crocheting a bolero, but that hadn't really worked. But this Christmas, I knitted up a lace mini-scarf with it for a friend. Then for Christmas, I received New England Knits, a beautiful book. I'm now making another scarf based on the lace panels from the Ashfield Cardigan. I will endeavour to photograph it properly and post it here. And I'm planning a big knit a cardigan. But I think that deserves its own post.

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