Sunday, 28 February 2016

Giant Cream Cushion

I can't believe it's an entire year since I last posted anything!  This doesn't mean I haven't been knitting, though - I NEVER stop knitting!  It's just possible that My Other Life (the one that doesn't have knitting in it) has been intruding a bit much.  Anyway, I'm back and will make an effort to catch up, starting with my Giant Cushion.  This cushion actually started life as one of those neck cushions – you know:  designed to support your neck while you sleep.  I've been through several of these and have come to the conclusion that only angels can support my neck while I sleep as none of them work.
Now imagine a jumper knitted by someone who couldn’t read a pattern, using thick, cheap, nasty acrylic yarn, back in the days when jumpers were basically vast tunics.  Horrors!  But the colour of the yarn was lovely – a rich, buttery cream.  I don’t recall ever actually wearing this jumper and as it was knitted in my pre-knitting days, it’s been at the bottom of a box for decades.  I had already taken it apart before it occurred to me to take a photo of it – never mind.  Just think HUGE.  The yarn might be cheap and nasty but perfect for furnishing.  It was lovely to knit with too – about the best thing you can say about cheap acrylics.  I used my lace rib pattern for this which I got to know so well that I could knit it in the dark.  It took a LONG time to knit but it’s done and the cushion is now used mostly as a rest for my sore foot......but that’s another story!

Lace Rib
Closer view of rib

I knitted four "scarves" to fit the cushion, two shorter, two longer.  The longer ones fold over the end of the cushion to button closed.

The pattern stood out more clearly once it was on the cushion

Not exactly a work of art (those end bits are a bit untidy) but I like it

I used pretty buttons I'd been saving for a worthwhile project - buttonholes already provided!

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Really Terrible Erika Knight Hat

Isn't this hat lovely?  (See Below)
Not when I tried to knit it.  I used the same yarn, the right needles, concentrated on my cabling......pulled it all out again when I discovered there was an error in the pattern.....worked out the correct pattern......but it just got worse and worse.  It wasn't the pattern error that made it bad - THAT at least I managed to work out and NO thanks to Knit-Today despite posting on their FaceBook page and emailing them.  You'd think if a knitting magazine got a pattern wrong, they'd want to do something about it.  The pattern chart was correct and I managed to work out the pattern from there, fortunately.  However, the pattern asked for 16 repeats of the cable pattern.  If I had done that, the hat would have ended up as a long bizarre scarf thing.  It was also blatantly obvious when I compared my knitting to the picture that everything was wrong:  in the picture, the cabling looking very crisp and, well, quite small.  The hat I made is ENORMOUS and that's with only 10 cable pattern repeats.  Everything indicates different wool and different needles.  The colour isn't even the same - it looks like a fresh pink in the picture but is in fact quite dull.
You can't imagine my disappointment.  Erika Knight yarn is hardly cheap.  Two balls of wool cost me £16 - I don't think I've ever bought anything that expensive.  I wanted to make a super-soft, gorgeous hat for my daughter as her skin is very sensitive.  I thought this yarn would be ideal.  I couldn't have been more wrong.
My faith in Knit-Today has hit rock bottom.  I don't want ever to knit anything from their pages again.  It's bad enough that I'm a bad knitter but to be bad because the pattern doesn't work or the yarn is wrong or the needles were wrong..........hah.
Oh and even the pompoms were terrible!  I followed the instructions PERFECTLY and ended up with a weird oval shaped pompom.  Needless to say, the whole lot has been shoved in a box, never to be looked at again.  When my daughter tried it on, by the way, it looked like a HUGE tea cosy, but made but a square tea pot (do you get square tea pots?!)
This is what it's supposed to look like
Note the different in colour

.....and this is what it really looks like:  notice how the cabling isn't nearly as compact as it is in the photo above - and I was knitting tightly to try and get that vain.

Friday, 26 December 2014

Happy birthday to me...!

Making a new year's resolution on my birthday seems like a good idea!  I fancy knitting a pouffe this year (don't you just love that word?!  ~ POUFFE ~ )(makes me think of a dragon blowing a feather away...) and have been investigating patterns.  This seems like the easiest one so far.  I love the mis-translation of the word duvet:  "we tried to make a ball of duves before we stuffed it" and "stuff the duves into the stool."  Erm, yes, quite.  Actually, that's a brilliant idea:  buying cheap duvets to use as stuffing for the giant floor cushion (which is probably a better description of what I'm trying to make rather than ......pouffe.......)  I had thought to use old pillows but they might end up an odd shape.
Another interesting suggestion is multi-stranding wool to make it thick enough to use 15mm needles, rather than buying Very Fat Wool.  2000g of wool would be required to make a decent sized stool that you can put you feet on, though I'm not confident it would be strong enough to sit on.  
I saw a fantastic one at John Lewis but at a rather fantastic price as well.  I wish you could buy that industrial strength wool they use.....unless of course, it isn't knitted but manufactured.  Mmmm, cheating....
Anyway, check out this Norwegian website (it's very possible that Google mistranslated that "duves".....)
...and here's someone who tried it out:
This blog looks like a good one to follow:
Hope you've all had a lovely Christmas!  I managed not to knit a stitch....!

Sunday, 21 December 2014

Comic cardie

Some time ago, I knitted the most disastrous cardigan in the history of knitting.  Worse, I had struggled with the awful wool for about two years since buying it, so it was a double disaster.  Recently, while clearing out and rearranging my wooden box, I came across the remnants of this yarn and starting knitting a jumper I really fancied in a very old knitting magazine.  I had enough to complete the back and since it seems to be turning out all right, I think it's time to pull out the comic cardie and start reknitting.  Before I do that, I got my daughter to take a picture of me wearing the cardie - sorry, it turned out rather dark and blurred, but then it is the winter's solstice today with no light in the sky at all - very gloomy and dull (though the gloom does seem to have turned a strange shade of pink now that it's 4pm and time for tea...)
What you can't see in the picture are the sleeves which hang about a six inches below my fingertips and the fact that the cardie as about three times wider than I am.  Also, the hood is somehow too short in front.  The knitting itself is crap beyond belief - honestly, I followed the pattern down to the letter.  I used the correct needles and tension, followed the sizing and THIS is what I ended up with - a gigantic saggy brown monstrosity.  
If it wasn't so funny, I might cry....though I think I might have cried at the time and then shoved it at the back of the Disaster Drawer for two years.  Since then, I've concentrated on knitting things well, using lovely yarn in lovely colours and feel much more confident.  But this really knocked me for six at the time....
Oh, look, it's a brown penguin

Previous posts about this cardigan can be found here:
The yarn used is Sirdar Tweedy Chunky, thankfully discontinued (as far as I know)

Other people seem to have had success with this awful yarn - have a look at these gorgeous sweaters at Ravelry:

Obviously it's just my bad knitting.

Monday, 8 December 2014

Looking after your stash

While rummaging through my big wooden box of yarns the other day, I noticed that some of them didn't smell....nice.  The fact that they smelt of anything couldn't be good!  I thought it was a musty smell and couldn't decide what to do.  I wondered if I might be storing them incorrectly or if they were just getting old.  I wrote to and got a reply back from Julia:

The main issue would be humidity which can make the wool smell funny.  The first thing I would do is to unpack your wool and let it dry open and in a warm place to get rid of all the moisture.  To get rid of the smell I would opt for natural fresheners like essential oils or a bar of soap.  Add the essential oils such as lavender, mint, lemon or rosemary to a cloth or a bit of yarn or fabric you're not using anymore.  Once the yarn is dry pack it airtight in a plastic bag or similar so that moisture can't get to it anymore.

Today I unpacked everything!  I took the wool out their bags and arranged them all over the lounge, mostly on tissue paper as I didn't want them to get dirty.  (That makes my sitting room sound filthy, but you know what I mean....that odd mote of dust floating about...)  I realised that most of the yarns didn't smell at all, it was just the purer wool - and then, when I went to clean the box out, I realised the yarn smelt like BOX!  The wool has actually taken on the smell of wood!  Woody wool (or is that woolly wood?!)  Much relief - so it seems my stash hasn't been suffereing from humidity at all, just feeling a little boxed in.  However, I did repack everything into fresh, new closable bags and a couple of large resealable bags I happened to have spare.  Had great fun - everything is now quite visible and easy to locate.  Also, it was a great reminder of what I've got and what I could do with all those random leftovers (let alone entire bags of ten I haven't used yet....)  I liked the idea of a bar of soap to scent the box naturally so got a bar of lavender soap.  Amazing how LITTLE soap my supermarket had.  Don't people use soap any more?

Julia also sent me a link about storing wool, particularly helpful if you've got dreaded moths:

All this has been a huge reminder to KNIT MY STASH - a good idea considering my super-squeezed budget.  It's just that I think we've got enough jersies for now.......!

My wooden box

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Wendy Supreme Crossover Cardi

I recently downloaded a free pattern that appeared on my Facebook page, thinking it would make a terrific summer cardigan for my daughter.  I've not knitted a crossover cardi before so it was an interesting challenge and quite simple - you just have to stay on top of the decreasing!  Like a good, organised knitter, I read through the entire pattern first to make sure there weren't any pitfalls and spotted information missing from the tie.  It wasn't information I could work out myself because I couldn't (from peering at the pattern) work out what stitches I was supposed to use for the tie!  I duly wrote to Black Sheep and the publishers of the pattern and eventually got a reply.  I got several, in fact, to say that they were working on it.  Patiently, I went off to knit something else.  In fact, I think I finished several old projects that had been hanging around for a while!  Always nice to finish stuff and get it out the way.  At last I got a reply from CarolAnn at Thomas B. Ramsden who discovered another mistake in the pattern - the slope of the crossover fronts.  Interestingly, while knitting them, I thought I'd made a mistake in my decreasing (always possible!) but made sure that I ended up with the right number of stitches for the shoulder.  What was odd was that I thought I'd made the same mistake with both the left and right fronts - how is that possible?!  But in fact, the error wasn't mine.  However, after all that, the cardi actually looks fine and you'd never know there are errors.  I would have to knit it again to see any difference.  
I found the Wendy Supreme Luxury Cotton dk lovely to work with - very fast, very neat, no splitting stitches.  Particularly good on those horrible hot humid days that we had so many of in summer, the kind of days you just don't want to knit (but know you'll go nuts if you don't!)  I didn't work up a sweat at all with this yarn, so think I'll make another crossover next summer, though my daughter wants longer arms - we both like our sleeves to actually reach our wrists!
..........Oh, dear, I could just tear my hair out - my camera won't connect to my computer and the card port is bust.  So I can't upload any pictures!  Will have to do it later via my daughter's computer, which is sick as a dog but at least it's card reader still works!  However, I have managed to acquire a photo from the pattern itself!  I knitted it in the orange shade 1951 (that's the shade number, not the year!)
(LATER)  My daughter Skyped the pictures over so I've added them below!

I used satin ribbon for the inside tie

The complete cardigan - the colour is just right for autumn!

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Stripy Knit in Bamboo Cotton

I've spent most of the summer - the hottest part of it - knitting a jumper for my daughter.  I bought the yarn last year as soon as I spotted it in Simply Knitting [issue 107] in this delicious coral shade.  Unfortunately, it doesn't seem to be available anymore, but there are other lovely colours, with new ones recently added.  It's King Cole Bamboo Cotton DK and seems to be generally available.  It was lovely to work with on those boiling hot days we had - light and easy to hold.  Really lovely to work with too as it didn't split.  The pattern has three-quarter sleeves (or what I would call two-thirds sleeves, surely the most useless length of all) but I made them full-length and also added stripes to the sleeves to match the body.  Luckily, the stripes matched the body for positioning!  The pattern also has buttons on the neckline but I honestly couldn't work out how to knit the shoulder bit so blithely ignored the instructions and did an ordinary seam!  Fortunately my daughter could still get her head through the rather small neck hole!  I bought the same yarn for myself but am reluctant to make myself the same jumper - my daughter is very slim (oh, to be 14 again...) and it looks stunning on her.  With my multitudinous curves, I'm not convinced I'll look as good!  Perhaps I'll find another pattern in the same yarn.....
I used flower-shaped shell buttons for the front opening but did not make buttonholes as I - correctly - thought they were superfluous.

I'll get my daughter to wear this tomorrow and take a "live" pic!