Feeling Loved; Day 7

It started off really, really sucky, but the day really turned around and I ended up really enjoying myself.  This morning at 4.30am we waved goodbye to The Boyfriend as he went off through the international departures gate.  Destination; Rome.  Eventually… London.  For two years.  Two years.

That’s literally the other side of the planet.  12 hour time difference.  Northern hemisphere to my southern hemisphere.

And it sucks.

But all is not lost, and wallowing does not help!  So, I have 3 awesome, positive things to focus on instead;

  1. I don’t have a lot of friends, but the friends I do have are amazing, loving, totally-there-for-me people.  Quality over quantity, people!  I love them dearly.
  2. Phone calls with my mum, over a glass of wine, on a cold rainy evening.  Comforting and good for the soul.
  3. Dyeing yarn makes me smile.  Tonight I dyed some yarn in greens and browns for a handsome young man’s woollen sweater (and cast on for his little brother’s cardigan while the yarn dries!).

(For those wondering what happened to Day 6, I briefly mentioned in my last post that I wouldn’t be posting.  It was my last day with The Boyfriend, so he got all my attention.  You know, priorities)

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On My Needles: Lotsa WIPs

My name is Amy and I have startitis.  Honestly, I’m fine with that.  It’s not a real problem.

But, it means I have a lot of WIPs.

Curious?  You should be!

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1. Hitofude swatched and ready to go.

I’m knitting this cardigan as part of the Tea House Knits Light KAL.  I’ve already knit a Starshower cowl (photos to come).

Hitofude is a lace cardigan knit in one piece.  Designed by Hiroko Fukatsu.  It’s very popular – 3,208 projects on Ravelry as I type this.  That’s… a lot.

So I’m joining in!  Knitting with Ice Yarns extrafine merino in a nice, classy grey.

It’s perfect timing, too.  We’ve just booked tickets to Japan in August, so hopefully I’ll have this cast off and ready to wear then! (Noting that August is the middle of summer and according to the internet the min temp that I can expect is as high as our max days here in Wellington.  Excellent).

I’ve already swatched (and blocked it…) and I’m comfortable that I’ve got gauge (Yay!).  That makes things easier.

Expect to see more on this one soon.

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2. Rosebud Socks – for something a little bit fancy. 

Last night I cast on for Wendy D. Johnson’s Rosebud Socks.  I love the lace pattern (you can see a better shot of it here), but I was drawn to them initially for the name.

As a child, my great-Aunt nicknamed me ‘Rosebud’ for my English Rose complexion.  So, love the name.

I’m knitting these in Happy Go Knitty alpaca/merino/nylon (60%/20%/20%) on 2.00mm needles (US 0).

First time I’m knitting on 2.00mm needles – I usually knit on 2.25mm (US 1), but my gauge is getting looser.  So far, I’m really liking the fabric.

Toe up (as the photo suggests…) and one at a time.  Not too sure what heel I’ll use yet.  The pattern uses a gusset and heel flap, but I think I’ll opt for the fish lips kiss heel – I tried this the other day with some vanilla cashmere gradient socks and it fits really well.

No deadline for these babies, but they’ll be finished eventually.

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3.  Jumping on the Sockhead bandwagon.

Have you heard of the Sockhead hat pattern?  It’s been knit a couple of times.  Only 7,014 and counting.  Yowzer!

If you can knit and purl, and have a skein of fingering weight yarn, you can knit this.

It’s beautiful in its simplicity – an excellent way to showcase your special skein of luxury yarn.

I’m knitting in a mystery yarn.  I got it in a swap, and it came without a tag.  The colours are gorgeous (I’m a sucker for green), and as I’m knitting I’m trying to figure out what the fibre is.  At the moment, I think it’s a merino silk blend… but how will I know for sure?

This has been on the needles for a while now and is serving as my end-of-the-day mindless knitting – for those times when following a pattern is the absolute last thing I feel like doing.  So, no deadline on this one either.

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4. Basic cowl to show off colourful yarn

This is a woven stitch cowl I cast on to experiment with a yarn I bought just because.  MadelineTosh Tosh DK in the ‘Mandala’ colourway.

These colours are brilliant.  Seriously.  Look at the colours in that ball.

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Sadly, they are not colours I would ever wear myself.  They’d take my English Rose complexion and make me look a little too undead for my liking.

But thankfully, I have plenty of blue-eyed lovelies in my family who would look wonderful in these colours.  No one specific in mind yet, but this will make a good gift later in the year.

That’s what’s on my needles – what’s on yours?

Finished Object: Looking Back

It’s done! Its off the needles! Actually, it came off the needles a week ago but the photos requested to marinate a while… it wasn’t because I was too lazy to carve out blogging time at all…

This is my completed Looking Back cardigan by Joji Locatelli.

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I love it.

I love how easy it was to get into a rhythm – lace panels included!
I love how fast projects in DK grow – this only took 2 weeks (including blocking).
I love the fit – as in, this cardigan actually fits.
I love that I learned new techniques – particularly tubular bind off (see below).
I love that I dyed this yarn – even though it’s not a colour I would usually wear.

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A success!

This wee beauty made its public debut on Friday at work.  Casual Friday + autumn = perfect timing.  There were plenty of compliments from people who knew I am a knitter, and no “ew gross!” comments from those who didn’t.

And it was comfortable!  At the end of the day, it could make me look like a gorgeous Amazonian beauty with legs up to my armpits, but if it’s not comfortable, I wont wear it.

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Learn all the things!

Plenty of firsts in this cardigan – the two stand outs are the cardigan construction, and my chosen bind off (not called for in the pattern).

Cardigan construction –  this is my first seamless cardigan with set in sleeves.  All the other seamless patterns I’ve made (mostly baby knits) have had raglan sleeves, which were worked from the top down so you work the shoulders and top of the sleeves at the same time as the neckline.

I really like the way the set in sleeves sit.  I think the finished object looks a lot more tailored – not that raglan shaping looks messy…

Tubular cast off –  I think I have my new favourite bind off.  I used this bind off on all edges – and I love it. I’ve used this technique since and I see a lot more of it in my future.

If you haven’t seen a tubular cast off before, it’s basically a way of grafting your ribbing so it looks like a continuous knit that wraps around from the right side to the wrong side.  Like you didn’t bind off, you just folded your ribbing over and sewed it in a seam – like you would with ribbed fabric on the sewing machine.

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It’s a bit fiddly – you knit the ribbing in a particular way (slipping alternate stitches) for 2 rows to make two separate pieces of fabric before grafting.  You end up with a ribbed tube along the edge.  Hence; tubular bind off.

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This wasn’t called for in the pattern, but I saw this on a knitting video podcast and was intrigued.  I used this tutorial from Purl Bee.

It adds a fantastic finish.  Having done this now, I’m not sure I would like the finish any other way.

If I do this again…

… I would probably chose a different colour.  Something like a navy blue (which would be harder to knit in artificial light so ‘swings and round abouts’…maybe I wouldn’t enjoy knitting it as much as I did this one).

I really like the colour I used, but it ended up being really, really bright.  Like… really bright.  I didn’t realise just how bright until I was on my way to work and saw it in morning natural light.  Nothing wrong with bright yarn – I just don’t wear it was much as perhaps I should…

On My Needles: Looking Back

A little while ago I posted about a cardigan I was looking forward to cast on for myself, using my own hand dyed yarn (you can see the post here).  Since finishing my Drachenfels, I have cast on and I’m going great guns!

Working in DK weight yarn is a great change – I work most of my projects in fingering weight – so the knitted fabric grows quickly and the pattern is interesting enough to entice biscuit logic.  You know, ‘oh, just one more won’t hurt’.

IMG_7870My gauge swatch showed what I’ve learned to expect from my knitting – I am a relatively ‘loose’ knitter, so I dropped down a needle size from what was in the pattern and dropped down a size.  From medium to small.  The thought was terrifying, but I had to have faith that the maths would not lie.

Was it the right decision?  I’m still not entirely sure.

Being a seamless pattern, I’ve been able to try it on as I go.  I think I’ll be okay in the bust because I added some extra stitches on those rows (I would’ve had to on the M size if I’d gotten gauge, too), and I’ve added a few for the hips too (what can I say?  I gots the curves).

The back worries me a little, though.  The logical part of my brain says that it’s fine, and it just looks bad when I try it on because the stockinette stitch is rolling up on itself and the button band isn’t on there yet.  Makes sense.  But, the emotional knitter in me just doesn’t know.  This cardigan is so close to being my best fitting garment yet, I just don’t want to jinx it.

The pattern itself is a joy to knit.  Looking Back by Joji Locatelli.  I am loving it.  The pattern document is clear, and well presented – I haven’t had any questions that weren’t answered by reading a few rows ahead.

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The lace pattern makes me smile.  There’s no simpler way to put it – I love how easily memorised it is, how pretty it is, and how it makes me look far more talented than I am when it comes to lace.  The large lace panel down the front, surrounded by stockinette, is really impressive.

I was a little worried that the colour variations in the yarn would detract from the lace pattern, which really should be the star of the garment, but it doesn’t look too bad.  The real test will come when the cardigan is finished and there is sleeve patterning, too.

So, watch this space!

Upcoming Project: Looking Forward on my Looking Back

Once my Drachenfels is off the needles, I’m casting on my next sweater project; Looking Back by Joji Locatelli.  This is a seamless cardigan that buttons up down the back and has a lace panel down the front.

I’ve never knit one of Joji’s patterns before, but I hear good things.  I’ve had a read of the pattern, and I think it’s going to be a good mix of thinking and mindless stockinette knitting.  Perfect.

I wanted to extend my dyeing experience, too.  So last weekend I did some dyeing.  A sweater load of dyeing!

And I’m really happy with the results:IMG_7816

An experiment of greens!  These are bright, deep colours which hopefully won’t pool on the sweater.

There’s 600g of this yarn – DK weight.  I should have plenty left over, so I can play around with shifting the place of the skein I’m working from if pooling becomes an issue.

Like most hand-dyed yarn, there’s a bit of variation between the skeins (there’s 3 of 200g each), so I will be alternating skeins.

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This was my first attempt at using powdered acid dyes – until now I’ve just been using food colouring – which was a pretty ballsy move… I’m not sure what I would’ve done if I hadn’t liked the results.  I’ll be doing some more single-skein experiments at some point so I can get wild with the colour experiments.  Because socks in any colour are always awesome.

All swatched and ready to cast on.  The yarn is superwash which will be helpful once it’s finished and, you know, life happens.  There’s still quite a bit of dye that runs out when washing, though… so it’ll be a handwash (and black underclothes…) until that’s all gone.

You live and you learn.

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I can’t wait to see how the final cardigan turns out!