Onward to …….. knitting

Further to my wardrobe revamp –  I started by sifting out anything I like into 2 wardrobes I usually have difficulty being ruthless but being ill seemed to help. There are huge piles of discard – The keep criteria was ‘does it look nice on and do I like wearing it’? (summer and winter). There are a lot in purple/damson, some in brown, a bit of mustard and green and a lot of  black! I can now find things in my cupboard…. a big plus.

I realised I have lots of nice things I have made and really like but don’t wear and why????………… I want to keep them for ‘best’…. this I think stems from an unbringing on the farm where we wore school uniform, mucky everyday things and visiting Grandma ‘best’. What we learn as children really sticks doesn’t it?………!!!!!!!!!!!

In this cold snap I have also realised I have lots of tops with 3/4 sleeves and mitts which are too short. On one of my wanders round Ravelry I saw sleeves!!!! Traditional women’s clothing involved separate sleeves. These were detachable from jackets and could be  fancy for Sunday Best and practical (you can remove to wash just the bits that got dirty). Could be just the thing to use up those nice Wool Show purchases and play and add colours to all that black.

I’ll make long mittens/sleeves and I decided to take a different approach to this project. As advised by Amy Herzog, I am going to swatch and knit to my gauge. She is an advocate of patterns being guides. Swatch – to test if your knitting and the yarn you want to use, will make fabric you want to wear!!

I have almost 100g of John Arbon Harvest Hues in Russet (it’s a little more gold than in the photo) left from another project and my favourite of all time Cambrian Mountains Wool 4ply in slate (as much as I can get!!). The sock projects at Christmas have given me a taste for the fabric 4 ply produces on 2.25mm and 2.75mm needles —- something that has crept up on me. I wanted to make them in simple colourwork. Also note … the Cambrian is a little thicker than the Harvest Hue.

Swatch – to begin with I know that I knit sloppy on stocking st – so I choose 2.25mm (13’s), I know that colourwork reduces the stretch and thickens the fabric. And that can depend on the pattern, I might have to increase and decease the number of st along the way.  I had an idea for a simple to follow colourwork, with a 6st repeat and row the same so I could work back and forth…..  long floats but the rows repeat help you know where you are. I cast on 60 st and set off , well it’s nearly a mitten anyway, so I intended to knit in all the elements as I went along. Basically I knit a draft mitten!! I have a mitten pattern in my head (cast on rib so much; sts st so much; increase either side of centre st for thumb to 20st; work hand so much; it isn’t written down long hand(!)

Then I measured. The gauge is  3/4″ to 6st (the repeat of the colour pattern) in the st st and the colourwork, but the amount of give varies.   I needed a mitten that started at about 9″ in the arm went down to 7″ at the wrist, was  9″ at the thumb base and 7.5″ at the fingers. Blocked and measured the test was 1/2″ too small all the way. The thicker Slate coloured yarn worked on its own in a 2×1 rib needed some stocking st to lengthen the arm. The colourwork brought in the knitting gently as I got a little tighter as I got into the rhythm, then opened out as the float got longer and merged into stocking st and added st for the thumb. The number of rows to the change of pattern works for the sleeve length and by starting the thumb at that point (increasing 2 st every other row) got a thumb of 20st. By reducing the sts by 6 after the thumb I could get top to be snug again. I was also trying to remember to slip the first st of each row to make sewing up easier.

I decided to go for 8″ (between the 9 and 7) for the width of the sleeve rather than try to decease through the pattern. The calculation is 8 divided by 3/4 x 6 = rounded up to the nearest 6st.  I cast on 68st. Knit 12 rows of 2×1 rib, 4 rows stst, the pattern is over 10 rows. Should I write that down????? I have got to make another one……………….






HO HO Hope Floats……………

or the reflections of a garment maker ‘knitting’

2017 has been and is snowly going….. and again at Christmas I have been ill. Something, somebody or the universe is telling me something….

On reflection 2017 has given me some insights into shops and shopping habits, some of which will require further action.  It has also provided me with knitting insights which I want to share. I started 2017 wanting to do a group project with the team of rugby dolls (it was not going to work dolls… rugby just well ….was it a good combination)? So….. do I want to knit for those who do not appreciate the skill, love, effort and time that goes into unique one-off hand knits?

Make your own!!! I wanted to knit for me. I enjoy the speed of knitting small things it allows you to try techniques. I enjoy shawl making (and wearing) but there are only so many shawls I can wear and Lampeter does have many other shawl ‘ appreciaters ‘…. Attending the EYF in March with all the yarny people showing off their shawl and jumper creations pointed that yarn appreciation fashion is a little bit geeky. I like shawls, tension doesn’t matter, the patterns are easy to follow and play with repeated themes. I am impatient and have put off garments in fine yarn because it isn’t quick enough – shawls taught me that wasn’t the issue. If the pattern flowed my knitting flowed. So in 2017 I knit and completed several items in 4ply.

Jazzy Knit Design wear

This mad a jazzy free ‘design as I went’ A line jumper (knit in patons, woolyknit and eden cottage yarns from shop left overs). Knit gone crazy (it needed tweaking twice and I nearly lost interest). I like to wear it, I have no real idea if it looks OK but it is very comfortable.

The knitting was the easy bit so I decided I needed a pattern to guide me (following a pattern now there’s a novelty) and picked a garter st top down Drops pattern and Harvest yarn from John Arbon (a EYF buy). It is lovely to knit with but this is my 2017 ooooops (it is too small in the bust even though I picked the large size and did swatches).

John Arbon’s Harvest

My conclusion DROPS design for the skinny and flat chested. But there was  something in my knitting didn’t help.

I swatched a lot this year I learnt that, especially with fine yarns and circular needles, it gives a guide to needle size (I have to use smaller ) but it is not until I get going with the chosen pattern and volumes of stitches will I know for sure. This holiday I discovered my sock issues were probably due to this too. I have Alice Curtis’s book ‘knit your socks on straight’. And well…. from odd one sock disasters I now have 3 pairs of socks!! And when I perfect the size for me on 2.25mm needles ……..I love wool socks!

I finished three pairs of socks

I know from sewing all these year that fitting garments is the key to comfort and any design looking good when worn. Being realistic about your shape and size is key to any thing….. I tend toward thinking I am bigger than I am and I can’t remember the last time I measured myself!!! I work from items that already fit, or pick big safe styles.

The Hygge is big and safe, I finished this very quickly it used The Croft aran from WYS and a quick top down technique of a berroco pattern,  and it is easy to wear. Whats not to like? (it could be just a little longer and it gives you angel wings so beware of the extra, extra width when you raise your arms but that is the jumper style). The New Lanark damson DK yarn made a smashing square jumper with tight sleeves. A mixed media cardigan in boucle and 4ply cashmere.  All were big knits.

If I want to do knitting for me I will have to do some more thinking. The yarns I wanted to use weren’t cheap and I wanted things to fit me. I discovered I had to think hard about what I wanted/needed for my wardrobe. What actually looked Ok on my portly figure. Did I adapt the designs I liked to fit me or more make something to go with the item I wanted to make? The designs that appealed to me as a knitter (with interesting techniques or stitches) were not those I could ‘do’ in the shop. Except the much admired Shanandoah (Melissa Leapman) which proved I can follow patterns almost and well it fits too….

I bought wool (Cambrian Mountains 4ply slate and Triskelion Yarn and Fibre’s Elmet BFL semi solid dyed ) to do Veera Valimaki’s Top Down Breathing Space last year I wasn’t brave enough to think I could get it to fit but……. It combines interesting knitting and good fit. I might make more and I have yarn left for ……..socks? or cuffs.


Completed items jumble

In 2017 I also made quite a lot of clothes. I have a bad habit of buying fabric and yarn because I like the pattern or colour so I need to review my wardrobe to make outfits out of the jumble sale. I will make more socks and possibly a shawl. Waistcoats or sleeveless tops for over shirts, a neutral go with anything cardigan and I was gifted Marie Wallin’s new book Shetland I really fancy making the jacket cardigan……………….