Owl Jumper

I am so excited to be able to write this post and triumphantly claim that I have knitted my first jumper!

My creative goal for this year was to make myself garments.  I have been knitting myself socks, shawls and hats for several years now and have made a couple of baby cardigans but the step up to a properly fitted, me sized garment seemed like a massive and daunting leap.

You may have seen that I started with crochet as it is the craft I find easier to understand and in March I finished my Isla Top.  I have been wearing and wearing it and it really boosted my confidence to have a go at knitting a jumper.

I made the decision about which jumper to choose when I was reading Handywoman by Kate Davies.  In the book Kate describes knitting a jumper, with cabled owls around the yoke and then writing it down in what was her first pattern.  I felt like it had a chance of being within my skill level and I loved the idea of owls giving a bit of interest rather than a plain jumper.

The pattern calls for bulky weight yarn knit in the round, from the bottom up and can be found here.

I prefer to knit with indie dyed yarn from small UK based producers and am in the privileged position of being able to afford to do so for socks and shawls but when I started crunching the numbers for a jumper I became very anxious about sinking that much cash into my first attempt at anything.  I opted for Cascade Ecological Wool in Antique which is a more affordable option and a warm grey colour.

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I was deeply invested in making this work out and so not only did I knit a gauge swatch, I blocked it too! And then felt like a proper, responsible grown up rather than my usual seat of the pants winging it style.  It’s a good job I did too as I discovered I needed to go up a needle size in order to make gauge and I’m sure I would have been devastated if I had made a jumper that didn’t fit.

Then it was a case of casting on, a little bit of rib and then acres and acres of stocking stitch.  Mile after mile of the stuff.  It made for wonderfully relaxing evenings in front of the TV but wasn’t very instagrammable!  One of the problems I have with ready to wear clothing is finding items with long enough sleeves and so I hoped to remedy that with this jumper.  I measured and tried on and measured again, all the while continuing on with my stocking stitch and was really hopeful  but it turns out in the finished jumper they still aren’t quite long enough.  Maybe they’ll lengthen a bit with blocking (which I still haven’t gotten round to) but its a definite lesson learned for next time.

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Once I reached the point of joining the sleeves to the body of the jumper, with the help of multiple, bright pink lifelines, the whole thing flew along and the cabled owls I’d been so excited about took shape in just one evening.  The neck shaping was another evening and all of a sudden I had a jumper!

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But did it fit?

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Yeah it did!

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I’m chuffed to bits and so proud of myself.  I knitted a jumper for me and it fits!

Next step, a jumper in finer wool.  But maybe more socks first.

Yarn Along

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Not a very photogenic book for this month’s yarn along, in fact if I’m perfectly honest, the art on this book cover makes me feel uncomfortable and creeped out!  Luckily the socks are pretty enough to draw the eye away from the book.

The sock yarn may look familiar if you are a regular here as its the same self striping dyed by the amazing Fab Funky Fibres and contrasting grey that I used on my Rainbow Zig Zig Socks.

The scales tell me that I have enough left over for a pair of non-matching socks with contrast cuffs, heels and toes but I have to say I’m a bit concerned about the size of my yarn balls regardless of the reassuring maths, I suppose only time will tell.  I’m using my absolute favourite, go to, basic sock pattern from the fabulous Christine at Winwick Mum although this is my first time with the contrasting colours.

I am reading Machines Like Me by Ian McEwan for challenge number 2 – an alternate history novel from Book Riot’s Read Harder Challenge.  That and because its a new book by Ian McEwan and I’ve enjoyed everything I read of his in the past.

The book is set in 1980s Britain but not the 80s Britain I grew up in.  This one is far more technologically advanced and the protagonist has just purchased a lifelike humanoid robot.  So far I’m interested in how this novel is going to play out,  I’m loving the writing but also I don’t find myself reaching for it that often and so it has yet to fully hold my attention.

Linking up with Ginny and the other Yarn Alongers sharing what they are reading and working on this month.

Yarn Along

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Not much colour in my contribution to this month’s Yarn Along!  On my needles are what feels like acres and acres of stockinette in grey which will hopefully, should the stars align correctly, may, one day, become my first knitted jumper.

Although it is not especially exciting to look at I really enjoy just knitting round and round without much thought.  I love to knit in the evenings to keep my hands busy while I watch television and while I do like more of a challenge occasionally, the repetition of just knitting every stitch without any counting or thought is relaxing to the point of meditative.  The yarn is Cascade Ecological in Antique, a bulky 100% wool.

I am finding the book very difficult to put down.  I don’t read a lot of non-fiction as I prefer my journey in to books to be one of escapism from the real world but Hallie Rubenhold manages to spin meticulously researched facts into a spellbinding narrative and I’m hooked.  It is also an important tale to be told.  The man who committed a horrific crime spree over 100 years ago gained infamy and notoriety while these women were consigned to being “just prostitutes” in the annals of history.  Of course they were nothing of the sort.  They were human beings, complex people with real and detailed lives and their stories should not be forgotten nor simplified.  I would definitely recommend the book as well worth a read.

Linking up with Ginny and the other Yarn Alongers sharing what they are reading and working on

Isla Top

This year, I am determined, will be the year that I make myself actual fitted garments rather than just socks and shawls.  I will definitely be making socks and shawls too, but now feels like the right time to move on to more complex items as well.

I bought On The Hook from Verity Castledine on her Truly Hooked stall at Yarndale 2017 and had a chat with the lovely woman herself about adapting the patterns to fit a bigger body and she reassured me that it would be easy and yet it has taken me another year and half to take the plunge.

I have a terrible habit of just buying single skeins of beautiful, hand dyed yarn and so I had to make a purchase especially to make a new top!  Again, Yarndale to the rescue and this time in 2018 I found myself at the EasyKnits stand, drawn the the richness and vibrancy of the semisolids.  I chose 2 skeins of Deeply Wicked, a super wash merino, 4ply yarn in a deep purple called Queenie

Armed with my yarn and my book I set out to make the Isla Top, modelled here by my garden chair!

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The pattern is written for a UK size 10/12 and I wear a size 18/20 so I knew that changes would need to be made.  The pattern says where more stitches will be needed to increase the size but does not give suggestions for how many and so it was guesswork and oh so many tryings on to work it out.  My exact stitch counts are on my Ravelry project page and would be useful as a starting point for anyone of a similar size wanting to make this top but trying it on, especially when adding the armholes, was invaluable to make the top fit my body.

Once the solid top bit was complete with the band fitting across my back nicely and armholes in place it was smooth sailing down the lace pattern from there on in.  I took a photo of how far I’d reached with my first skein of yarn, a nice crop top but not what I was looking for!

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And so I joined skein two and kept on going.  I had originally hoped to get some sleeves onto the top as well but from this point in it was clear that I would need a third skein to manage that and I wasn’t prepared to try and source one of the same dyelot.  But look how well it fits, all that trying on was well worth it!

Once I had reached a length I was happy with I had some yarn left and so I added little cap sleeves rather than keeping it as a vest top.  By the time the top was finished I had just 15g remaining from my 200g of yarn.

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These indoor photos really don’t show the lovely colour as well as the outdoor ones do.

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In the end I am absolutely thrilled with my finished top and the experience of making it was quite enjoyable.  I am pleased that I started with crochet which I am much more comfortable bodging adapting as I go along and it has given me the confidence to try a knitted garment next.  Watch this space to see how I get on!

Stylecraft Sophie

My 2018 crafting was dominated by my Temperature Blanket but I thought I might also be able to sneak in another blanket in between all the knitting I was also trying to squeeze in!

Most online searches for crochet blankets tend to feature Sophie’s Universe, a crochet-a-long from 2015 and one of the prettiest blankets I’ve ever seen and so that was what I decided upon.  I started in February of last year and have recently finished my version around a year later.

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The fabulous Dedri Uys has the full blanket pattern (all 112 rounds of it) available free on her website complete with video tutorials, lots of photographs and translations into many languages but I work best from a printed pattern and so I decided to buy the book from Wool Warehouse which has everything printed in colour and bound together in one place.

Dedri made her blanket using Scheepjes yarn and there are colour packs available to buy  from several online retailers containing all of the yarn that will be needed and the colour list.  I decided to stick with what I know, the yarn I have used to make all of my big blankets and to make my blanket from Stylecraft Special DK.

I would love to claim credit for choosing this gorgeous colour combination but as I worked through my blanket I looked at the colour used in the pattern and picked a shade of Stylecraft that was either similar or I thought would work well for the upcoming round!

I did, however, make a note of those colours as I was working and have collected them together here which should open as a printable pdf – Sophie colour sheet

I found this pattern to be so clearly written it was easy to follow even as the blanket grew to be enormous and through all of the new to me, unfamiliar, stitches, I would recommend it without hesitation to crocheters of any skill level. And just look how pretty it is!

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Rainbow Zig Zig Socks

What a journey I have been on with these socks.  There have been tears, rather a lot of swearing and so much joy when I finally finished them, ending up with two socks that fit on my feet!

I have made many socks over my knitting career, I wrote a post here in mid 2016 proudly showing my first 5 pairs of plain socks using the amazing Winwick Mum Sockalong method which I have recommended to many people and have set them on their sock knitting way.

Since then I have branched out into patterned, lace and cable socks and last year I signed up to a sock club from The Knitting Goddess receiving yarn and patterns every couple of months to expand my sock collection (a quick search here shows that I haven’t blogged all of these socks, I’ll add it to my list!)

These socks were my first attempt at using stranded colour work for a sock and so as I was heading into new territory I came back to Winwick Mum and decided to use the Rainbow Zig Zag pattern from the book More Super Socks which I bought at Yarndale and had signed by Christine Perry.

I ploughed, enthusiastically into sock one without properly reading the pattern notes, I know how to knit socks, I’ve made loads, right?! *hangs head in shame*  I did work on keeping my floats, the strands of yarn that are carried behind the stitches, loose but that was the only concession I made to this new style of sock.

Within a week I had this gorgeous specimen finished…

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… what a beauty!  I went to put it on.  I got my toes in no problem.  I went to pull the sock over my heel and it would not move.  It was exactly like the scene in Cinderella where the Ugly Sisters try to squeeze their feet into the too small shoe.  It just would not fit.

I cried, I raged, I was so embarrassed to have made such a rookie mistake and so sad to have made something so lovely but yet not functional. I was gutted.

I went onto facebook and got some great advice, shoulders to cry on and the fortitude to try again and onward I went into sock two, this time using bigger needles, 3mm rather than my usual 2.5mm; a larger cast on, 72 stitches rather than my usual 64; and prepared to make a longer heel flap.  The advice to make the longer heel flap really made a difference to the finished sock and came from the pattern designer Christine Perry via her facebook group Winwick Mum Knit and Natter which is a lovely place I would recommend if you are a sock knitter and facebook user.

Sock two flew along.  I learned the new to me skill of continental knitting and found the colour work went much quicker when I could hold a strand in each hand and knit one in my usual English style of throwing the yarn and the other picking the yarn in the continental style.

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I posted this triumphant photograph on Instagram as soon as the sock was off the needles! I was so pleased that it fit.  The differences between socks one and two can be clearly seen when they are next to each other.

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Sock two, on the left of the picture is noticeably longer, wider and the longer heel flap is easy to see.  I was also really pleased to get through more of the rainbow in this bigger sock.  These socks use two yarns, the amazing self striping is from Fab Funky Fibres and is called The Big One, the plain grey is also indie dyed and is from Somerset Yarns.  Both are 4 ply, superwash merino/nylon blend.

My confidence buoyed by the success of sock two sent me bounding into number three and led to me finally ending up with two socks that fit!  They don’t perfectly match but they are pretty close and just make me smile every time I look at them! The sun even came out so that I could get some photos of them in natural light, these are my happy socks 🙂

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Yarn Along

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I know February is short but I’m still really surprised to find that a whole month has passed and we are back to Yarn Along again.

I will tell the full tale of these socks when they are finished but it has been a bit of a rollercoaster ride with sock number one, the one featured in last month’s Yarn Along, not fitting on my foot.  So the socks pictured today are numbers two and three and are hopefully heading towards me having a wearable pair very soon.

The pattern is Rainbow Zig Zag by Winwick Mum from the book More Super Socks and the self striping yarn is a 28 coloured rainbow called The Big One dyed by Fab Funky Fibres.

I mentioned last month that I was reading my way through the Tournament of Books contenders (it starts today by the way which I am very excited about!) and one of those was So Lucky by Nicola Griffith.  I found myself deeply moved by the passion with which she wrote that book and keen to try something else of hers.  Hild is very different.  Where So Lucky is contemporary fiction Hild is set in the seventh century but both feature strong female protagonists and I really enjoy Griffith’s story telling.

I am also more pleased than I probably should be with the serendipitous way that my yarn ball is matching the front cover!

Linking up with Ginny and the other Yarn Alongers sharing what they are reading and working on.