Friday, 29 November 2013

Christmas knitting List

Now that it's getting to the end of November i'm frantically scrambling about to get my Christmas knits on the needles, and flying off to make way for the next one. This year I have a lot of presents to make. I decided to go a lot bigger than I did last year for my boyfriend's family's presents, so instead of mini stockings we have scarves, cowls and boots. I'm also going to be doing most of my presents this year as knitted ones as a stash busting exercise and generally because a knitted gift is given with love. With Ravelry as a great source of inspiration I got to work finding patterns for presents. The Patterns that made the present list so far are

 These Slippers are knitted in a super bulky weight yarn and look like they would be incredibly comfortable to wear whilst being pretty effortlessly stylish (or at least as stylish as one needs to be in their own home/for sleepovers).

The picture I believe is the one Jenny knitted, and it looks scrumptious, especially in the Malabrigo Rasta. However that yarn is slightly outside my budget (though I Knit do sell it , so I wouldn't have to pay postage) so I'm going to be using my stash Araucania Tolten which is slightly thinner but will work. It will knit up to make a nice squishy but close cowl that is nice to wear against the neck.

  • Striped Scarf by Erika Knight (from the book Men's Knits a new direction)

This pattern is also available on Ravelry but I had picked up the book at my local library and saw it when I was flicking through. I will be modding it though, by using a linen stitch to join the colours, and aran weight yarn. I had originally wanted to knit Incognito, but I was informed that it likely wouldn't be worn. How can anyone not love Incognito! I'll be knitting myself one soon methinks...

Props to Andrea for this gorgeous piece it's really lovely and I was completely inspired. As I'm hoping the present will be used as a costume piece I might make it a bit more ornate and possibly add some beads. I am also considering making it only one eyed and crocheting some fancy lace over the top to the other side of the face. Along with this I was thinking of adding a necklace, the choker is very nice but again I'd be making some changes to it to make them work together.

  • Nest by Hanne Katajamaki

Now there are a lot of cats in the household, so I think this one will be well received I might try to reinforce it a bit so that it isn't as easily collapsible, though not having cats myself I don't know if it's a plus or a minus.

So that's the shortened version of my Christmas knitting list, i'll be adding more as I go along as I've gotten involved in a few secret santa's. One for my old school friends and another for the I Knit Christmas party. So bring on the knitting!

If you have any suggestions of what to add let me know. Also I would like to state none of the pictures used above are mine this time and all belong to the lovely designers of the items/patterns. So massive thanks to them for the patterns that I will be using. 

I'm sorry this was so late but i just came back from holiday to Iceland, so that's what my next post/ posts will be about with a little contribution from the boyfriend.

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Stylish Knits and blocking

I talked about it in my last post, and I'm talking about it again. This will be the last one of the Salt City Cardi, because it's done!
Blocked and ready to wear!

I spent most of Saturday knitting my heart out to get it finished. I decided to add another repeat for the shawl collar, which is probably what took the most time but I think it was probably worth it as it crosses over a lot better now. I debated a bit about what cast off to use for the collar, as I wanted to make sure it wouldn't impede the blocking. In the end with the help of a few YouTube videos (don't you just love YouTube!), and Stitch Diva studios. I chose the Lacey bind off. Now I know it isn't the stretchiest of the four shown, but from the swatches I thought it looked to be the most uniform with the stretchy cast on and I really didn't want the bind off to be too stretchy.

For reasons entirely unknown, I kept having issues with the sleeves and knitting them up. Though from other peoples comments I think that was entirely just me. I bound of the ribbing on the sleeves with a stretchy twisted cast off as seen here, serious thanks to Lorraine L for that as I've been looking for a bind off that gives stretch but doesn't flare. It is a mite fiddly though.

Enough of the finishing/knitting discussion though, I know you want to see it! I took some pictures unblocked as I just wanted to get it on and see how it fitted. please excuse the cropping but I was making some seriously strange faces, due to general silliness on mine and my mother's part.

I'm thinking that I will probably need to pick up a shawl pin to hold it together. As you can probably see the shawl collar is a bit stiff and doesn't fall as smoothly as it should. That is mostly because the yarn I used for the collar specifically was still oiled and needs a good wash to soften it up. 

After that there was one more step to do, BLOCKING!

Obligatory blocking pic

Who needs blocking wires, not me! I just took some of my acrylic yarn, threaded it through and secured it tautly to achieve straight lines. I'm blocking it on top of a mattress, plastic to protect the mattress (by mother's request) and towels. It looks a lot more gorgeous up close but i'm not going to spam you with pictures.

Now that the cardi is done, I can move on to doing my Christmas knits. Pressies here I come!

I've got quite a few people to knit for so I'm looking for quick knits and yarn that won't break the bank so let me know if you have any suggestions!

Friday, 1 November 2013

I Knit, Test Knits and Yarn

Fairly recently I started going to a knitting group in Waterloo at the I Knit London store. It is very different to the Stitch 'n' Bitch that I used to be part of back in Leeds, though it is a good group. The age ranges and people are much more diverse, which is always a good thing for a well rounded group. The past few times I've been I took along my test knitting project.

The item I am test knitting is a gorgeous cardigan by Sheila Toy Stromberg on Ravelry called the Salt City Cardi, it uses three different types of lace stitch and they flow really well together. Though I'm finding time wise, it has taken me a fair bit.  I started it on the 17th and I'm still working on it, I have had less time this week however. The yarn pictured below is the Merino Silk blend I talked about before from Kingcraig fabrics on eBay, it's been pretty good to work with and has got me load of compliments at I Knit.

From balls like this
One of the great things about having a more diverse group with a crowd generally older than me is nice varied levels of experience. This came in pretty handy when it came to figuring out what to do about washing my  yarn before knitting it. I wouldn't have thought about the possible ramifications of skeining and washing the oiled balls of yarn individually. Each skein would likely have been washed at slightly differing temperatures and also with varying degrees of roughness which affects how much of the oil is washed out. Knitting them all together like this would then impact blocking as different parts of the garment used different skeins, with different amounts of all and could therefore when completely wash skew the shape because of the tension changes etc.

What this meant I did in the end was use the skein I had already washed, but only for the back piece, and then I used the unwashed yarn for the shawl collar and I plan to use the remainder of the washed yarn for the sleeves. As each of these sections are blocked separately the different levels of oil will not affect the final look and structure of the garment.
To this
Taken at I Knit, London

As I am knitting to a deadline I take my project with me everywhere, I've been knitting on all my journeys and whenever I have a spare moment. I even took my knitting to Blues Fest at the Royal Albert hall last night to see Greg Porter and Natalie Cole, which was amazing. Greg Porter really blew my mind with his smooth voice, I will definitely be listening to more of his songs. It took me a little while to warm up to Natalie Cole, though in the end she was great too.

How would you recommend treating oiled yarn? I know some people are adamant either way, washing it thoroughly before knitting or washing as a garment. Let me know, also if you have any tips for treating it, I would love to know for future projects.