It’s a Go!

It’s been a little while in the making, but the day is here; I have an Etsy store!

Rather than complain about my plot in life, I’m seeking to change it.  With positivity, colour, and constructive action.

So, ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce to you:

Phancee Yarn.
Yarn with a love story.

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No positive 3 today, because this just takes the cake.

There’ll be some changes here on the blog over the next week or so, as this will be the new home of Phancee Yarn.

Watch this space!
I’m really excited.

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Spin Me Right ‘Round; Day 21

I like the number 21.  It’s not only my birthday, but it’s divisible by 3 and by 7 and it’s not an even number.  Don’t try and tell me that’s weird – it’s perfectly logical thank you very much.

Today was a busy day at work.  Not stressful, frantic busy – just full, working lunch kind of busy.  I like those days, though I wish I had actually accomplished more.

This evening has been a crafty one and that makes me pretty happy.

Two of my top 3 points from today are fibre related;

  1. I’m making great progress on my brother’s beanie.  He requested one and needs it for warmth so I’m knitting it with a NZ possum / nylon blend.  Very warm, even if the colour blends in seamlessly with my blue/gray couch.
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    Pattern is my own – it’s just a simple garter rib.  I don’t think I’ll release it as a pattern but I’ll have a look on Ravelry and if there isn’t a similar one I might write up a recipe and release it for free…
  2. I pulled out my electronic spinning wheel (Ashford e-Spinner, if you’re curious) and spun up some of the 100% merino roving I dyed up a little while ago.
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    I’m very much a novice spinner and the consistency of my singles leaves a lot to be desired, but I think tonight’s efforts went well.  They’re also the thinnest I’ve spun to date, so I’m hoping they’ll make a useable fingering/sport weight three ply (I plan to chain ply).
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  3. An exciting piece of life admin; I’ve set up Skype on my laptop so that I can video call with The Boyfriend without having to worry about propping up my phone.  This is great news, even if only in my head.  Funnily enough, that’s the whole point of this list so it counts.

Tomorrow will be an equally good (or, perhaps even better?) day.  Onwards!

Hump Day; Day 8

It’s Wednesday.  Hump Day.  But that doesn’t mean I let it go to waste!

My three things are easy today;

  1. I rocked a quick workout at the gym after work.  It was the first time I’ve been in a wee while so I didn’t go too hard, but the endorphins are pumping regardless!
  2. Lunch out with a friend today, catching up on gossip and talking about our feelings.  Cathartic and tasty.  The only way it could’ve been a better use of a lunch hour is if it were sunny and we were on the waterfront soaking up the rays (we weren’t.  We’re facing thunderstorms and power cuts here at the moment…)
  3. I’ve settled on the couch now with a glass of red wine, the latest episode of Outlander and the beginning of a cardigan for another friend’s son.

Now that’s what I’m talking about.

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The cardigan I am making is the Professor Sweater by Rae Blackledge.  I’m knitting it in a real wools wool.  It still smells like the sheep.   The body is going to be a natural, undyed oatmeal colour, with stripes of a dark green.   Complete with the cute arm patches.

It screams out for a little red bowtie accessory… so cute!

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!

Finished Object: Drachenfels Shawl

It’s off the needles!  My Drachenfels is finally off the needles!

IMG_7847This turned into one of those projects that I just had to finish.  It took a while to get into the swing of things (I was probably over half way – in the middle of the stripes – before I found my garter stitch groove).  And the novelty wore off pretty quickly after that.

Drachenfels is a paid pattern, so I won’t go into details of the construction, but the shawl grows so that each row is longer (i.e. has more stitches) than the last.  Soooo… the last few rows are quite, erm, long. 

Towards the end it became a chore, but the final items was so worth it.  I’ve worn it a few times already and it only came off the needles on Wednesday.  This is going to get a lot of use.

Sadly, the wool is not super soft, so it can get a little scratchy on the back of my neck.  But I’m hopeful that it’ll get softer with a good soak.

I haven’t blocked it yet, I’m not sure I have space.  Or if I really need to.  The stitches are uneven, the fabric is a bit wobbly, but I’m going to be wearing this as a big, giant scarf.  So none of that stuff matters.

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The sheer size of this thing is hard to describe in words and still do it justice.

Excuse the the terrible photo quality, but I had to drape the shawl over the back of my door to get a shot that really demonstrated the length of this thing.

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I think my favourite part of the whole shawl was the bind off.  The pattern called for an i-cord bind-off – something I had never tried to do before.

The final look is really cool.  I think this is my new favourite cast off method and I’m definitely keen to try it on some more projects.  Just, preferably, not ones that will take and hour to get across the final row…

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Finished Object: My Aunt Doris

I’ve been a busy busy knitter over the last week – I have a bunch to show you.  Each project deserves it’s own time in the spotlight, so expect some more posts over the next couple of days!

First off the needles was Lilith’s birthday cardigan – My Aunt Doris (pattern by Kelly Brooker).

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This is so cute, bright and soft that I want to snuggle with and do nothing else, ever.  It fits Lilith’s blooming personality to a tee and I’m excited to surprise her with it for her birthday.

It was hard to settle on buttons.  I had a few options in my button collection and I was open to buy something especially, if some just screamed to be the cherry on the top of this project.  The key contenders were some cute wooden buttons shaped like apples, small clear (boring) ones and the little black ones I opted for in the end.

I’m totally happy with my choice – I think it finishes the cardigan well.  I would usually avoid using black anything on baby clothes, but I think they keep the garment sophisticated and clean.  They’re not standing out as a show piece, so don’t draw your attention away from the star of the show – the yarn (okay, and the baby).

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Sadly, her birthday isn’t for another couple of months so I may well buckle and give it to her before then.  I just want to see her cute-as-a-button face giggling in this cardigan!

But, it sits sensibly in wait for now.

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