One of the first skeins of yarn I bought from Third Vault Yarns, at Nine Worlds in 2015, was in a colourway called Gallifreyan Sunset. It’s a measure of how fabulous Lola’s dyeing is that she has me falling in love with colours and dyeing styles that I would normally never contemplate. Orange is just one of those colours that doesn’t agree with, much as I love its perky cheerfulness.
But I fell in love with this subtle blend of orange and terracotta, with its flashes of bright yellow and the occasional dusty purple. And not just for being based on Doctor Who. Lola tells me that this is such a difficult colourway she can’t reproduce it. I have one of the few skeins that will ever exist.
I’d been saving it for the right project, and these socks were the perfect project. The pattern is Phyllis, by Rachel Coopey, one of the patterns from her collection Coop Knits Socks Volume 2. I love the textured cabled diamonds, and the definition provided by the twisted stitches. The long chart meant this wasn’t the quickest of knits. And it wasn’t helped by a catastrophic case of yarn barf that meant I had to untangle and completely recake the yarn at least twice, once during the middle of one of the panels at this year’s Nine Worlds.
Hand-knitted socks are perfect for these cold, wintery days. And it brings me a great deal of knitterly and geeky pleasure to know that under my sober work outfits with their sensible winter boots I’m flying the geek flag with bright and cheerful socks.
Two FOs in one week?! I am spoiling you. This is Ceciliana, next in the A-Z of shawls.
The sharp-eyed among you will have spotted that there is no lace here. With Ceciliana I’ve tried another technique that is new to me: mosaic knitting. This is a style of colourwork knitting, but unlike fair isle there are no floats running at the back of the work,, making it much more flexible, stretchy and less stiff. And unlike intarsia there are no pesky bobbins to contend with. Instead, the pattern is made using slipped stitches, with each of hte two colours of yarn used on alternate rows of garter stitch.
It works up really quickly and is very satisfying to knit. Just like any other colourwork pattern, there is a chart to follow. The trick is just getting your stitch counts right. As always, stitch markers are your friend. It’s definitely a technique I will try again when I want a hit of colourwork without the faff.
I really like the textured effect the garter stitch and mosaic knitting style gives this shawl. The two shades of grey (a lovely silver and a darker slate colour) give it a very modern look and feel. The grey was hard work for me to knit (my mood is strongly affected by colour, and subdued colours = subdued me) but the overall look is modern and sophisticated, and I can see it going with lots of things. This is a practical shawl that I can see myself wearing a lot this autumn.
The pattern is by Lisa Hannes, who has a number of patterns for shawls of this style using mosaic knitting on Ravelry. This one is a shallow crescent, and incorporates short row shaping to create wedges of the colourwork pattern, as well as the bands of the diamond motif.
The yarn is Travelknitter’s Silky Merino, a 50/50 silk and merino blend in a ply weight This is the yarn I bought at Festiwool in Hitchin last year. It’s a great yarn to work with and I’d really recommend it – perfect for projects like this and the colour range is superb.
It’s been a while since I’ve posted an FO. So here is Brina, the second in my A-Z of shawls.
Brina is a crescent shawl with short-row shaping, from the queen of that technique, Susanna IC. The pattern is from Twist Collective, one of my favourite pattern sites.
Brina was the chance for me to vanquish one of my knitting demons: nupps. For the uninitiated, nupps are a particular type of bobble, common in Estonian lace knitting. They create quite a flat bobble, unlike the more pronounced bobles typical of Wastern knitting styles. They are conventionally worked by increasing stitches in one row, and then purling them together on the next WS row. Being able to do that depends on leaving your stitches loose enough that you can manipulate them on the reverse row, with the added trickiness of putting a needle through and then purling together anything up to 7 stitches. I frogged an entire lace shawl once out of frustration at not being able to master the nupps in it. So I was determined to learn how to do them.
I’m afraid I cheated a bit on this shawl. I used the crochet hook method. It involves finishing the nupp on the RS row, and using a hok to pull the yarn through all the loops. It may be cheating, but it worked. It’s definitely a technique I will use again.
The yarn I’ve used here is Nimu Lingmell. It’s a lovely spatter-dyed wool/silk blend in a 4ply weight and this skein was in a 150g size that was the perfect yardage for this pattern. The colourway is called Bright Flashes of Panic, and it was part of a limited edition yarn club run by the dyer a couple of years ago. Nimu sadly don’t produce much yarn at the moment (the dyer has gone back to full-time education, which is taking up her time) but if you watch the Nimu Facebook page you will occasionally see a destash or a summer yarn club like the one where I got this yarn.
The shawl blocked out to be a lot shallower and wider than I was expecting, but that makes it the perfect length to wind round one’s neck loosely while still displaying long tails. It’s a great extra layer for those coool early Autumn days.
Recently I did something I’ve never done before: I took part in a gift swap through one of the Ravelry groups I am a member of. it was organised by Lola from Third Vault Yarns.
The rules were pretty simple. Each of us would take it in turns to host Sadie, a knitted bunny, for two weeks. At the end of the fortnight Sadie would get posted on to the next person in the chain with some surprise gifts. There should be one handmade gift, which didn’t have to be knitted, and one shop-bought gift.
I received a beautiful handmade notions pouch with some stitch-markers and a colourful scarf The pouch is large enough for a small project and the scarf has quickly become my go-to office wrap for when the air conditioning is fierce or i just feel the need of an extra layer
Unfortunately, the package spent a week at the sorting office waiting to be collected, so I only had a week with Sadie. She missed the chance to come with me to the Sri Lanka Test Match at Lord’s, and I didn’t get to take her on a business trip to The Hague. But we packed in some fun.
After spending some time chilling with Baby Groot, I took Sadie to a recording of a Radio 4 comedy called the Now Show, which was doing a special for the EU referendum. The recording was at the beautiful Radio Theatre in Broadcasting House. Unfortunately I couldn’t get any pictures of the auditorium (not allowed).
But I did get this snap of Sadie meeting a Dalek just outside.
And later that week Sadie helped me vote in the EU referendum itself.
But it wasn’t long before I had to wave Sadie off on her travels again, this time with gifts from me.
My handmade gift was this pair of fingerless mitts, made in Rowan RYC Baby Alpaca DK. The pattern is Hands of Blue by Lucy Hague, a Firefly/Serenity-inspired pattern. I love the texture created by the twisted stitches. I also popped in some handmade stitch markers and a notebook before sending Sadie on her way.
It’s been a while since I’ve posted an FO. So let’s put that right. Here are my Narcissa Socks.
The pattern is from Knitting Wizardry, which is the UK title of a book of patterns inspired by Harry Potter. The book was a birthday present from a friend of mine. When I saw these socks, and that the pattern was by Rachel Coopey – one of my favourite sock knitting designers – I knew they were the first thing I wanted to make from the book.
The complicated lace pattern – and the rash of baby knitting I’ve had to do recently – means these socks took longer to make than I was hoping. I cast them on in May last year, and finished them early in April. (That’s nearly a whole year for a pair of socks!)
Plus they’re right and left-footed, with a column of twisted stitches running down the outside of each foot.
The yarn is a beautiful variegated skein of Posh Elinor, in a colourway called Time, Gentlemen Please. I love the mix of bold blues, with touches of purples and browns in there too. I’ve had it in my stash for a while, waiting for the perfect project.
Now I just need to work out what to make from the book next.
I think I may now have reached the end of my baby knitting odyssey for 2015-16, with the last of the baby gifts now completed. That’s excepting normal Auntie-knitting duties, and any other babies that come along, of course.
So, this is Sunnyside.
I came across this pattern when I read about Sally (soknitsome) making it while on a trip. Once I saw it, I had to add it to my queue and I knew it would be perfect for a colleague of mine who is expecting.
This is a wonderful unisex cardigan pattern, which is great if you don’t know what sort of baby is on the way. I made it in Baby Cashmerino, in a lovely shade of French Grey. It’s a great neutral shade which should go well with most things.
Like a lot of people who’ve made this pattern I modified it so that the cables are mirrored. I also made the buttonbands a little wider, by adding extra increases, to allow for the buttons I wanted to use, and my preferred one-row buttonholes.
With the baby knitting done, I can get back to focusing on making things for me.
One of my aims for this year, is to make a bit more of a dent in my stash of laceweight and sock yarn. So, inspired by a friend of mine, I’ve decided to copy her idea and start an A to Z of shawls. It’s a pretty simple idea: pick a pattern from my ever-growing queue on Ravelry that starts with the appropriate letter, match yarn to it and get knitting.
First up, is Alberta.
The pattern is by Anne-Lise Maigaard. It is based, in part, on the famous designs by Herbert Niebling. Niebling is known as the father of modern lace knitting. He collected and documented traditional lace knitting patterns, and they are still used as the inspiration for modern patterns.
Despite the complexity of the design, this was a surprisingly easy and fast shawl to knit. There is a lot of interest in the design, which made me really want to keep picking up my needles to make progress.
The yarn is Sparkleduck‘s Harmony, in a colourway called Rosemary Remembers. It’s a 50/50 merino silk blend, which I bought at Festiwool. It’s quite a subtle colourway, but I love the bright flashes of violet and lime green that pop through it. To me, they are suffragette colours, which is one of the things that drew me to this skein of yarn in the first place.
It turned out I also had the perfect beads in my stash too. These are a 6/0 bead in a pretty pink with an AB coating. That iridescent AB coating perfectly matches the variegation in the yarn. The weight of the beads also adds a lovely drape to the shawl. I used around 62g of beads in all (of the 66g that I had), and was panicking that I was going to run out of them – these were not the most uniform of beads, and I had a lot of mishapes and discards to get rid of.
But I’m really pleased with how it’s turned out. Onto the letter B …