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Crepe dress

Crepe dress by Kitsy Babcock
Crepe dress, a photo by Kitsy Babcock on Flickr.

My obsession with 50s style sundresses continues, and I finally realised that I get a bit sick of most of the high street ones being too short. So…. I learned to make my own. This is Crepe by Colette Patterns, a fantastic pattern and really great for a beginner. I actually think I made it a bit too long in the end so when I next make one, I’ll shorten by about 3 inches.

Knit Nation part 2

Ok so I quickly lived to regret my weirdly negative post about the Thursday night marketplace preview at Knit Nation. I think a lot of my misery was to do with just not feeling well, and therefore not being up to talking to people.

Anyway, I went back to Knit Nation on day two, for an all-day sock design class with the very legendary Cookie A. I thought this class was really, really fantastic. The morning session was mostly theoretical, looking at the maths of sock design and how to adapt stitch patterns such as cables or lace to make them suitable for use in a sock design. We also looked at a load of Japanese stitch pattern books to choose a stitch pattern to use for our own design, and had one-to-one sessions with Cookie for her to check what we were doing.

Anyway I merrily went ahead with my sock but to get ahead of myself a bit, I realised when I got home that the stitch pattern looked a bit familiar… so I looked through the patterns I own on Ravelry and realised it was the same stitch pattern as the Golden Dahlia socks by Kirsten Kapur. I’d been meaning to knit them for ages. I thought about what to do for about 4 days and in the end I ripped mine out and drew myself a new design. I could have carried on, but I just wasn’t happy with doing something I knew someone else had already written a pattern for! But my new design is going really well, pics will be up here soon.

I did go back to the marketplace during my lunchbreak, and came away with some lovely purchases:

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Dazzle sock yarn from Natural Dye Company. This is their stall:
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I also got:
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Some natural coloured aran 100% wool (plus two skeins marled with a dyed purple ply) from John Arbor, and
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More aran wool dyed by Babylonglegs in Whispering Grasses.

I also kinneared a photo of Ysolda (way too shy to go and ask for a photo, yes I know, I’m useless):
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One of the highlights of my day though was going to the Ravelry Talk, with Jess and Casey the founders and owners of Ravelry. They talked about the history of Ravelry right from when they first had the idea, through all the challenges they faced in setting it up, right through to the newest and future developments. I wish I could explain the atmosphere in the room but it was just incredibly happy, positive, grateful and full of appreciation of these people who have helped so many knitters and crocheters across the world, as well as designers and independent companies. I don’t think there’s any way knitting would be as big or popular as it is today if it wasn’t for what these two people created.
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They do look a bit like a ghostly hand is coming to get them in this photo. Sorry Jess and Casey.
I summed up the courage to ask a question at the talk (about whether they had plans for an iPod app; Casey said there’s one in development – hurrah!)

It was a fantastic day and I went home with a big smile on my face.

Knit Nation

So this is where I was this evening…

I’ve had a bit of a hard week this week. I had some surgery to remove a cyst in April and after ignoring increasing pain for over a week, I went to the doctors on Tuesday to find out that the surgery wasn’t successful and my cyst was growing back. Faster than before. I’m on strong antibiotics which are definitely helping but I’ll have to have the surgery done all over again, which makes me unspeakably depressed.

Enough of that.

It’s times like these that knitting really helps me out. It can be incredibly soothing, thought-prokoving, distracting, creatively fulfilling and sense-of-achievement-giving, all at the same time. It’s a repetitive motion that I can do with my eyes shut but I can concentrate on it as much or as little as I feel I need to, in order to take my mind off other things. (although obviously I’m not implying that I frequently knit cobweb-weight lace shawls with my eyes shut whilst thinking of something else. Sadly.)

So I went to Knit Nation today feeling really excited and ready to be completely cheered up, ready to meet people and talk to people and take photos and gather material for this blog, and I epicly failed! I didn’t have any classes today (those are tomorrow and Saturday) so I just went for the marketplace preview. I didn’t buy very much (although what I bought I love; I’ll post about it over the weekend). My main problem though was a giant version of the crushing shyness that I appear to get whenever I walk into to any kind of knitting group! It is incredibly weird because I work as a reference librarian which means my job is meeting and talking to people, and I love it. Anyway. I talked to a couple of people, nervously fired some questions at Ysolda about her new book in the manner of a person with zero social skills, managed to give someone else the impression I was stalking her, and left feeling very awkward.

I also totally to failed to take more than 3 measly photos, all of the Wollmeise stall, at which I didn’t buy anything. The colours were arranged amazingly though. I’ll try and force myself to take more pics tomorrow.

On an unrelated note, here’s what the postman brought me yesterday…

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Madelinetosh Sport in Mansfield Garden Party. I’m still thinking it wants to be Audrey in Unst… another version.

Wish me luck in my sock design class tomorrow! Good night.

The third purple cardigan I made this spring was Marigold, which was from the summer 2010 issue of Interweave Knits.

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I made it out of Elsebeth Lavold Hempathy, a DK weight cotton/hemp/rayon blend, which I thought would be a perfect summer cardigan yarn.

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For the most part, it’s pretty good. It feels quite rough when you’re knitting with it, but very drapey, and it softens up a lot with washing and wearing.

My one reservation would be, I wouldn’t use this yarn again for anything with puffed sleeves. My sleeves are nice and puffy when it’s just been washed, but after a couple of hours they are droooopy. And the ribbing stretches out a lot too. It’s totally my fault for using such a drapey yarn, and I could definitely do something with shoulder pads to puff them up, but it’s still under consideration. (Wouldn’t you see shoulder pads through this holey stitch pattern? I’d have to knit some from the leftover yarn and stuff them! Actually, now there’s an idea…)

Brights

This summer I feel like I’m getting increasingly obsessed with bright colours. I’m currently making Audrey in Unst from Twist Collective in the most ludicrously bright yellow Rowan Cotton Glace (it’s shade 825 which I think is called ‘Buttercup’). It’s so bright that when people see it the main reaction is ‘wow….. yellow.’

Try it for yourself:

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There you go, I bet you thought, wow, yellow, didn’t you. And not necessarily in a good way. The more I work on it, the more I feel like I’m making it as a muslin for a more wearable version. This is such a great pattern for sportweight yarn, which I have a lot of, and it doesn’t take that much yardage (just 950 yards for my size, which is a 38 1/2). As a result I have loads and loads of yarn options for another one:

  • The recommended yarn, Blue Moon Fiber Arts BFL Sport, in Jasper (purple! what a surprise)
  • Blue Sky Alpacas Sportweight in green, a discontinued shade More Alpaca Sport!
  • Madelinetosh Sport in Mansfield Garden Party (this hasn’t arrived yet. It’s on preorder and I’m obsessing over it.)
  • Old Maiden Aunt Alpaca/Silk DK/Sportweight in Strange Rock n Rollers (pinky orange, or alternatively, orangey pink) IMG_0660
  • Shilasdair Luxury DK, which I can’t get to be a DK tension, it’s blatantly sportweight, pink, dyed with cochineal: IMG_0659

Decisions, decisions.

The Cotton Glace is not massively easy to work with and I do get the sore wrists and hands that are common with working with cotton. However it is more stretchy in the finished fabric than other pure cottons I’ve worked with such as the now discontinued Rowan 4 ply Cotton.

I’m alternating working on Yellow Audrey with this…

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It makes me ridiculously happy to look at it. More on this next time…

Well I know I haven’t written anything since my first post back in October 2008 but the thing is, I really, really want to blog. I really want to be doing it regularly, partly because I’m an ex long-time diarist who had to give up when I got a proper grown-up job and suddenly had no time to do it, and partly because I read so many great blogs and I feel like I should be giving something back to the internet in return. I don’t think I really even mind if no one reads it!

So anyway down to business. I realised recently that I spent most of this spring knitting purple cardigans, which is somewhat absurd as I already owned about four shop-bought purple cardigans. Also I am a librarian and it seems pretty stereotypical apparel (don’t even get me started on my large collection of sensible shoes, my glasses and tendency to put my hair into buns – it keeps it out of way! I’m just being practical).

Here is candidate 1, which is Pickadilly designed by Pamela Wynne:

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Ravelled here:

I made this back in March, partly to have something smart-looking to wear to deliver a conference paper in. It’s in some Rowan Felted Tweed that I got for about £2 a ball in a previous John Lewis sale, not all the same dyelot so there is a visible line across it, which I can’t really seem to be bothered about. I really liked the pattern (and the finished article) but I did have to knit the body twice, as the first time I didn’t modify the shape enough for my body. I’m really high- and short-waisted.

Anyway I loved Pickadilly and wore it a lot… until my mother shrunk it in the washer at Easter. I’ve tried to block it out but although I can live it with being a bit more fitted than it was (for ‘a bit more’ read ‘a lot more’) but the problem is that the fabric has fundamentally changed, and instead of the light, soft, airy but warm texture that Felted Tweed usually has, it’s now the most itchy cardigan imaginable. I can wear wool no problem but I’m scratching at this even if none of it is directly touching my skin.

It’s therefore, I’m afraid, a total sweater-fail. I’ll make it again one day… maybe in superwash…

Next I made Blossom by Kim Hargreaves:

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Ravelled here

I made this whilst recovering after some unpleasant minor surgery, and I’m not sure I would have made it through the pattern without having the time to do long stretches of knitting. The pattern is one of those that has increases on one edge every x rows, decreases on the other side every y rows, and a picot edge every z rows. I thought I was going to go mad holding three separate counts in my head at all times.

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I ended up sewing a popper to raise the cinch of the waist a bit (which it doesn’t have in these weird overexposed pics, note to self, stop attempting to photograph knitwear whilst wearing it) and changing the waist was really transformative, it changed it from slightly unflattering to a really good summer cardi. The yarn is Sylvia 4ply by Posh Yarn and is a really beautiful silk/wool blend with a lovely rich sheen.

This post is far too long so I’m going to leave purple cardigan number 3 for a later post. In the meantime though, here’s a gratuitously cute picture of Gilbert, one of my rabbits, pretending to be a Rembrandt painting…

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The beginning

I’ve resisted getting a blog for so long but I’ve just finished making something which I feel is worthy of record:

Vali

Vali

Yes. It’s a dress. Made of lace. It wasn’t actually very complicated, but I’ve been working on it since Christmas day 2007, so now that it’s finally finished I feel at a bit of a knitting loose end.

Pattern: Vali dress, from Rowan Studio 2, designed by Sarah Hatton.
Yarn: 9 skeins Rowan 4 ply soft, in ‘Victoria’.
Needles: 3.25mm Lantern Moons, in 10″ and 14″ lengths, and some random metal 2.25mms for the sleeve cuffs.

I made quite a lot of modifications to the pattern, which are described on my Ravelry page.

Here’s one more gratuitous lace shot:

It was the Knitting and Stitching Show at Alexandra Palace at the weekend. I went on Friday, having taken the day off work specially but I was a bit disappointed. There was too much stitching and not enough knitting. And everyone else there, who were either old ladies or textile GCSE students, seemed really grumpy. I wore the purple dress but hardly anyone else was wearing knitted creations.

I spent ages at the lovely Knitwitches stall, trying to decide between various different colours, went off for a while to deliberate, got back, picked up the skeins of choice, and then was forced to surrender them to a grumpy Austrian lady who (allegedly) was already in the process of buying them. Grr. I suppose she had come a long way. All I’d done was cross London.

So in the end, all I came away with was an Addi bamboo circular to make my Embossed Leaves socks.

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