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Saturday, March 29, 2008

Sheep Yoke Baby Cardigan - FO

Sheep Yoke Baby Cardigan - FO

Pattern: Sheep Yoke Baby Cardigan by Jennifer Little of Looking Glass Knits
Size: 3-6 months
Yarn: Rowan Pure Wool DK. 1 and a half balls in main shade, less than half a ball in each contrast colour.
Ravelled here

I loved knitting this so much. The pattern is really easy to follow (even if like me it's your first yoked sweater) and the sheep are just so cute. I really like the yarn as well - it's good and squidgy with nice stitch definition. It makes a great substitute for the recommended yarn for us Brits who can't get hold of Knitpicks (and it's only £3.25 a ball too).

Sheep Yoke Baby Cardigan close up

I made only a couple of modifications. The flowers are done in duplicate stitch because I didn't notice the note to ignore the pattern repeat for those rows and I couldn't quite handle working out both that and the yoke increases on the train. The sleeves are knit in the round (because I'm lazy when it comes to seaming) and so I had to make a couple of late decreases at the cuff so that the ribbing worked out. Next time (and there definitely is going to be a next time) I'll make 4 sets of decreases down the arm to make it a bit neater. Oh, and I knit the sheep with their heads turned towards the camera rather than looking straight at the button band but that's just because I omitted to print out the duplicate stitch chart so had to make my best guess from the photo. I quite like them like that though.

Sheep Yoke Baby Cardigan detail

If you liked that ...

Sheep Yoke Baby Cardigan #2

Sheep Yoke Baby Cardigan #2 is already on the needles. I'm knitting the sheep section in intarsia this time around as I don't really like working with floats that are too long to leave loose. This is my first time working intarsia. Someone please remind me to invest in some bobbins next time round.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008


Sheep detail

Sheep Yoke Baby Cardigan

The Sheep Yoke Baby Cardigan is still racing along. I've finished the yoke and am onto the main body. Of course this means about 5 inches of solid stocking stitch so I've been breaking it up by doing some of the sheep embroidery. I'm using the yarn held double to give a good solid effect.

I was a little worried in the shop about whether the blue and green were a bit bright but I'm very pleased with the effect now. I think that they work really well together in lifting the main colour.

I'm also less concerned about the leftovers now - apparently there's a matching hat!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Messy Tuesdays - week 2

Messy Tuesday

This week I present the somewhat unedifying spectacle of my yarn and fabric stash. The yarn should be living (safe from dust and moths) in the plastic boxes stacked to the right of the photo. The fabric stash is too recent for me to have actually devised a storage solution. The problem with this (aside from the fact that it reduces my leverage when trying to get my boyfriend to tidy up his mess) is that WIPs and UFOs are mixed up with abandoned half projects, project stash (i.e. yarn for which I have a purpose) and odds and ends of balls meaning that I have to search through five different places to find anything.

The point of Messy Tuesdays as I see it, is not really to glorify the mess but rather to acknowledge its existence as a result of choosing to do something else than tidying with one's time.

Hence, more progress on the Sheep Yoke Baby Cardigan.

Sheep Yoke Cardigan

I've just got 4 rows of yoke to knit before dividing for the body and sleeves and it looks like I'll have plenty for the second one. Plus a lot more odds and ends to add to the pile above!

Monday, March 24, 2008

An embarrassment of stitches

Mum and I had a lovely time together yesterday knitting and watching the footy. Mum raced through the beret and was dismayed to realise that she still had a good half ball of chocolate cashmerino aran left over *. She thought this would work well as a stripe or edging on a cardigan and I, in accordance of “gently encouraging”** her to get back into knitting, sorted her out with a pattern for a raglan baby cardigan to match her yarn and needles which I’ve adapted from the raglan baby sweater in The Baby Knits Book. Hopefully I haven’t made any dreadful errors in adapting it but I’ll be on the end of the phone for one to one pattern support at least!

Whilst looking through Ravelry for something for Mum to knit for baby with the leftovers I came across something for me too. That is, something for me to knit for the baby, although I wouldn’t say no to an adult version of this.

It’s the Sheep Yoke Baby Cardigan by Jennifer Little and it’s just gorgeous. You can see all the different versions knitted so far here on Ravelry. A few people are knitting it without the sheep which I don’t quite get, but then I do love sheep.

I’m using Rowan Pure Wool DK (which is very nice) indeed and I’m knitting a variant between the boys’ and girls’ versions - no pink (sadly the shade of pink that I loved was only available in 4 ply) but including the flowers.

I cast on on the train (luckily I got gauge right away with my 3.75 mm needles - the only pair of needles I had with me) and made pretty good progress although I soon realised that I didn’t have quite enough stitch markers to mark all the pattern repeats. Fortunately I was able to make up the shortfall with jewellery:

Check out the bling

The next slight snag came when I realised that the yoke increases meant I was going to run out of space on my 20 cm needles by the time I reached the sheep.

Sheep Yoke Baby Cardigan

Eek. I managed to keep on knitting though it was a tight squeeze on there by the time I got home.

I’ve made on tiny modification to the pattern so far in that I decided to stitch the flowers on later using duplicate stitch rather than knitting them as the printed chart doesn’t take the repeat into account and I really didn’t feel like working it out on the train, especially as that’s one of the increase rows. [Edited 25/03/2008] Oops! That's my bad. There is in fact a very clear note in the pattern pointing out that you should ignore the repeat for the flowers and just knit them as printed right across. D'oh! Still, I think that with my colourwork skills duplicate stitch will turn out much neater!

* The beret itself was a project using leftovers from the moss stitch baby blanket . She hasn’t sussed yet that there’s always yarn left over – that’s how you get stash!

** If by “gentle encouragement” you mean bringing two knitting books up from Oxford, re-writing a baby sweater pattern as a raglan cardigan and getting Mum to drive us both to John Lewis this morning.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

I got sunshine, I got blue sky..

..and not only in my yarn, as we were treated to a white Easter with clear skies and sparkling snow up here in the semi-freddo north! Alas I haven't been able to venture out as I'm still hoping that I can coddle myself out of my cold before visiting the niece on Thursday, thus avoiding the embarrassment of being the only one in a face mask. Luckily she's too young to be scarred for life!

Oxford Kitchen Yarns yarn in sunshine and sky

I would also have a finished objects post about the lace edge cardigan but my blocking photo turned out really poorly (as in you can't even see the lilac towel it's sitting on). Never mind, maybe we'll get model shots after my visit!

In the meantime I have two skeins of Oxford Kitchen Yarns yarn in DK weight to play with. It's for (yet another) secret project so I can't say much more, but I'm having lots of fun messing around with stitch patterns in this lovely yarn.

I brought both Debbie Bliss knitting books up north with me to see if there were any patterns that Mum could knit with her leftover Cashmerino Aran from the baby blanket. There's a little under two balls so it looks like all of the cardigans and sweaters are out but there's a really cute beret in Simply Baby which she's just casting on for*. I must just say how much I love this book. The patterns are beautiful and the photography is gorgeous, as are the babies! I didn't buy it myself (it was a present) but it easily meets the criteria of having four patterns (and more) that I want to knit.

* in fact she just came in now for a quick lesson in the long-tail cast-on.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Tuesdays are messy

natural crockery formation

This natural mug formation was recorded near the sink in our kitchen on Tuesday evening. This impressive spectacle is formed by continuous droplets of tea or coffee being drunk during the day and adding by increments to the height of the tower. If left indefinitely it is possible for these formations to reach as high as the ceiling of their cave kitchen.

Messy Tuesdays are brought to you by Knitaluscious and Knitwit.

Progress on the Lace Edge cardigan is continuing apace. I'm now finished on the first sleeve and have picked up the stitches for the second. The sleeve shaping has strayed slightly from the pattern after I got a bit carried away in knitting round before deciding to actually work out how many I should knit before beginning the shaping but it doesn't seem to have affected the overall shape too badly.

Lace Edge cardigan

Second sleeve should be finished tomorrow, then I can get started on the exciting lace edging.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

FO - Sally

Sally FO

Pattern: "Sally" from JB29 by Martin Storey
Yarn: Jaeger Matchmaker Merino 4 ply
Needles: 3mm; 2.75mm circs
Ravelled here

I'm so pleased with the way that this has turned out, especially as I rather lost confidence in it whilst knitting the fronts due to the trickiness of combining colourwork and shaping in a neat and tidy fashion. Happily seaming and picking up stitches for the front and neck edging seems to have secured all the dodgy bits. I'm pretty sure my sister will like it and I'm certain that she'll love the buttons which are even cuter than the bee ones on baby's purple cardigan (now sadly outgrown).

One of the reasons I'm so pleased to have finished Sally is that I promised myself that I wouldn't cast on the next baby cardigan until it was done. As soon as the last little sheep button was stitched firmly in place I picked up my needles and yarn and cast on for the Lace Edge Cardigan from Simply Baby by Debbie Bliss. Debbie really doesn't go in for the poetic names for her patterns which is maybe just as well as you've got to wonder at the thinking behind giving instructions for boys and girls button bands for a cardigan pattern entitled "Sally"!

Lace Edge Cardi

(yeess - that didn't really turn out as well as I'd hoped. I'll take more pics in better light soon.)

I've been wanting to knit this for ages now as the lace edging looked particularly exciting. However, for a while it really did seem like a case of the grass looking greener on the other side as I found myself plunged into a garter stitch black hole for at least two hours this afternoon. I have now, though, emerged safe and sound on the event horizon with one of the "fronts" complete and halfway through the back. I'll see how it goes but I'm suspecting that it might be a cunning plan to pick up stitches at the armholes and knit the sleeves downwards. I'm really much better at picking up stitches than at sewing on sleeves! I might even knit them in the round once I've got past the point where they are joined to the underarm.

I'll post something about our lovely holiday in Prague just as soon as I've sorted out the photos (I got rather snap happy). In the meantime here's what I was knitting whilst on holiday.

Thelonious socks

Thelonious socks by Cookie A. in Louet Gems Opal. I love both the yarn and the pattern and I'm racing along on the first sock. I've had a great idea for adapting the pattern too in order to make symmetrical left and right socks but at this stage it would involve a fair bit of ripping back. "To rip or not to rip?", that is the question.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Des boutons moutons

Aren't these sweet?

Des boutons moutons

Last Wednesday evening I dashed across town after getting back from seeing my niece to see if the knitters were still in the pub. They were and I was rewarded for my efforts with these lovely buttons from Kirsty.

Not only are they incredibly cute, they're also very timely as I've finally knitted all the pieces for the Sally baby cardigan and the sheep buttons will match perfectly.


The observant amongst you might notice that I've cheated a bit on the sleeves which are knit plain rather than in the pattern. This was done for two very pragmatic reasons: firstly babies have very little fingers which tend to get caught in anything loopy when you're dressing them; secondly (and this was the clincher) I found knitting the pattern and shaping at the same time really quite awkward and stressful as I just couldn't get the edges as neat as I'd like and there were lots of loose stitches. The thought of knitting two more pieces like that was just too much to contemplate. I think it will still look great with plain sleeves though.

The cardigan is now blocking ready to be finished up when I get back. In fact, I suppose I could even take it on holiday with me and finish it on the plane. Does anyone know if BA objects to yarn needles!?!

Sunday, March 02, 2008

FO - lengthways garter stitch scarf

Lengthways garter stitch scarf

This turned out to be a record time quick knit. A bit of knitting on Friday evening, a bit on Saturday morning on the bus and waiting for the train and a bit more on Saturday evening in front of the telly and it was done. I blocked it overnight, which can be a risky strategy resulting in impromptu acupuncture of the feet, especially in an unfamiliar room, and fixed the tassels on first thing this morning.

Sadly, it didn't end up any wider despite best best attempts, but it's definitely longer and really it's so thick that the skinniness isn't an issue.

Lengthways garter stitch scarf

I love how the thick and thin bits in the yarn have formed diagonal stripes.

Given how well this has turned out I now have plans to rip out a bulky weight cardigan in Rowan Big Wool which has been attracting moths* in my wardrobe for far too long (it's boxy and it flares and the buttons won't stay buttoned) and cannibalise it for more scarves. The yarn was really far too expensive not to get worn.

Did I mention that I visited the bead shop on Saturday?


Despite all the lovelies on offer I managed to restrict myself to the smaller (and cheaper) beads (at 30-65p a shot these things can really add up) and some more jump rings. I'm just kicking myself that I didn't bring my pins and round-nosed pliers up here with me - still it's something to look forward to when I get home!

* Before I get put into quarantine I should stress that these are metaphorical moths.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Dewi Sant

In honour of St. David's day we have daffodils and a poem.

a host of golden daffodils

Daffodils by William Wordsworth (1804)

I wander'd lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.
Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the Milky Way,
They stretch'd in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.
The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed -- and gazed -- but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:
For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

I still love this poem even after seeing it endlessly repeated in fancy type on countless picture postcards featuring views of Ullswater or Grasmere and, indeed, even though I always think straight after of the Beano parody which featured Plug of the Bash Street Kids and went something like this:

I wander'd lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
The reason is I've skipped off school
Pretending that I'm ill.

I snapped these, not beside a lake, but in the grounds of Magdalen College (I managed to crop out the tossed away kebab van containers that lay amongst them - don't you just love Oxford students?) as I was heading to the local bead emporium after the boyfriend's degree ceremony in the morning.

R wonders if primary colours really suit him

The boyfriend is now officially D.Phil'd - although if he thinks I'm addressing him as "doctor" he's got another think coming, there's only one Doctor as far as I'm concerned.

Happily Bluestocking Ruth was also getting her MSt. at the same ceremony so I could support her too.

Ruth models the latest spring fashions

Enough of all this. "Where's the knitting content?" I hear you cry. Well I made really good prgress on the secret project today on my somewhat stressful journey up north (at one point it took the combined powers of June Whitfield as Miss Marple on the ipod, the Yarn Harlot in book form, and my knitting to keep me sane) but secret projects don't really make for good blog fodder. Let me give you a sample:

Well I ______ed the ______ before _______ing the ________ and _____ing the ______. Then I ______ed the ______ and _______ed in the _____ _____s and I was really happy with the result. Here's a pic ... no, sorry, can't show you that either.

Luckily for you I cast on a lengthwise garter stitch scarf last night with the fancy Italian yarn that the boyfriend's sister gave me for Christmas. Ever since I learnt how to do the long-tail cast-on for Tatami I've been looking everywhere for excuses to use it and a project which involved casting on 100* stitches in bulky yarn of variable thickness on 10mm needles seemed as ideal candidate.

Lengthways garter stitch scarf

I knit 12 rows in garter stitch and then cast off with the EZ sewn bind-off (fortunately the thin bit of the yarn is just thin enough for my big darning needle). The result, pre-block, is a skinny scarf, just long enough to go twice around my neck and tie in a knot leaving two short tails. Tomorrow I'll be blocking it (hopefully wider and a bit longer) and adding tassels (yay).

* This was pure luck! I cast on stitches until I ran out of yarn and needle and by some freak it worked out at 100.