Tuesday, 18 December 2007

Knitting for Knitting's Sake

Here we are, less than a week before Christmas. A time where knitters world wide are usually found sobbing into their skeins of merino, completely aware that they are not going to finish that shawl for Aunty Mary in time.

Not me. I knitted a hat. It's the Unoriginal Hat by the Yarn Harlot (www.yarnharlot.ca), and I knitted it with King Cole Aero on 7mm needles. I have been meaning to knit this since I first saw it on Stephanie's blog - my first attempt ended up as a neck warmer as I ran out of yarn halfway through (a very effective neck warmer, however). Undeterred, I bought more yarn and knitted it again.

I love this pattern. I knitted it in a day (which always makes me feel good - there is no opportunity to lose interest in the project or the yarn, and something might actually get finished). I love cables anyway - and I got hold of a lovely set of cable needles on Friday that my mother was throwing out. Silly girl.

Nice hat, finished in time for Christmas - surely it would make a great gift? Of course - except that I can't think of anyone to give it to. No one. I think it looks pretty boyish, despite the cables, and I can't think of a single guy that could do with (ie. actually use) a hat. So essentially, I've knitted this for no good reason. Knitting for knitting's sake. Surely the best kind!?

Thursday, 13 December 2007


I got this poncho as a gift from my parents, several years ago. It was back when ponchos were enjoying their moment in the sun, their 15 minutes of fame. I would like to say I was never a fan of the style, but my wardrobe begs to differ (I have a gorgeous, hand crocheted black poncho made for me by my mother in law, which I love and wear a lot. But it was hand made. And from my MIL. And black never looks bad). The problem with this particular ponch is the length - too short. I obviously suffer quite a lot with short clothing (as my mohair cardi testifies...). This thing just hung off my boobs as if they were a shelf. For shame.
So I let it fester in a cupboard for several years. I don't know what I was hoping for... maybe that it would move out in the night?
Here we are in 2007. I am not buying any more yarn this year (I have my fingers crossed that Ma & Pa have bought me yarn for Christmas - my dad tried to engage me in a conversation about colours of Twilleys Freedom, which was very bizarre and suggests to me he was digging for information... anyways...) so I thought I'd try and recyle the ponch. I attacked it with some scissors, following advice I read in the Frankenknits section of Knitty (www.knitty.com). First I removed the tassles. Then I unpicked the seams - essentially this garment is 4 big blocks of knitting joined together, so unravelling it all was easy. I ended up with 4 large balls and a couple of small balls of this funky yarn - some of it is like roving, it's just actual unspun wool, and then it turns into a really thin, almost 3 ply consistency. Weird. There is just about every colour ever involved here too.
So I knit myself a hat and scarf. I didn't bother about patterns as the yarn is so funky, any sort of pattern stitch would've been entirely wasted. Here is a hat adapted from a pattern from Knitting Pattern Central, knit initially on 5mm needles, and then on 6mms for the main body of the hat (which is plain old reliable stockinette).
I wasn't entirely happy with how the hat turned out - basically the needles were too small. I used 10mm needles for the scarf (which is k1, p1 over 20 stitches all the way up, simple yet effective) which has a far better tension, so I'm thinking with the remaining yarn I might re knit the hat on 7mm/8mm needles. Then I can give the hat to someone or sell it or something.
This was an eyeopener. Imagine how much I could save on yarn if I just recycle old stuff I buy in charity shops or something? It was easy, and I got so much yarn for very little effort.
That said, I am weak. I like the process of going in a yarn shop and touching everything, and imagining it all knit up. It's going to be an expensive new year... especially if Ma & Pa don't come up with the Twilleys....

Wednesday, 5 December 2007

Digby, The Biggest Sock in the World!**

**This is very witty, believe me, so long as you were a young child in Britain in the '70s.

Another free pattern! Does my generosity know no bounds?

You need: about 50g red DK weight yarn (I opted for acrylic nastiness), 25g each of yellow and white (both in DK weight) but to be honest I probably used less. Obviously you can change the colours.

Set of 5mm double pointed needles.

Using white yarn, cast on 64 stitches and divide over 3 needles (21 stitches on 1st needle, 22 stitches on 2nd needle, 21 stitches on 3rd needle). Place a marker if you need to marking the beginning of the round.

Work K1, P1 ribbing for 4cm. Join red yarn.

Knit straight round until work measures 8cm in total. Join yellow yarn.

Follow the following chart for the stars - the chart is worked over 11 stitches and 11 rows. Basically, you work 1 row of the chart, then knit 5 "separator" stitches (in red) before working the chart again. This is the case for each row of the chart. You end up with 4 snowflakes round the sock.

Once the chart is complete, cut yellow yarn and secure. Continue in red (knitting straight every round) until work measures 15cm in total.

Join yellow yarn, and knit straight until work measures 19cm in total. Change to red yarn.

Continue in red (knitting straight every round) until work measures 21cm in total. Change to white yarn.

Continue in white (knitting straight every round) until work measures 25cm in total. Change to red yarn.

Continue in red (knitting straight every round) until work measures 30cm in total.

Knit across the 21 stitches of the first needle, turn and purl across these stitches and those on the third needle. Join yellow and white yarn at this stage. These 42 stitches will be the heel.

Work 14 rows in stocking stitch (starting with a knit row), alternating colours every 2 rows. Stick with one colour (I chose yellow) for turning the heel:

Turn Heel:

1st row: K30, sl1, k1, psso, turn.

2nd row: sl1, P18, P2tog, turn.

3rd row: sl1, K18, sl1, k1, psso, turn. Repeat rows 2 and 3 8 times, then 2nd row again. (There should now be 22 stitches on the needle). Change to red yarn.

Sl1, k to end, then pick up and knit 11 stitches evenly across the first side of the heel flap.

Using a 2nd needle, knit across 22 stitches of the second needle (instep), then using a third needle, pick up and k11 stitches evenly across the 2nd side of the heel. Knit across 11 stitches from the end of the first needle. You should now have 66 stitches over the three needles (22 on each).

K1 round straight.

Knit to last 2 stitches on first needle, k2tog, k1. Knit across second needle, then on 3rd needle, k1, sl1, k1, pss0, knit to end. Repeat the last 2 rounds until 44 stitches remain. Change to yellow yarn, and knit 2 rounds straight.

Knit to last 2 stitches on first needle, k2tog, on 2nd needle sl1, k1, pss0, knit to last 2 stitches and k2tog, then on 3rd needle sl1, k1, psso, knit to end.

Knit 1 round.

Repeat the last 2 rounds until 28 stitches remain, join red then decrease as before on every round for 2 rounds. Change to white, and continuing the decrease on every round, work until 8 stitches remain. Cut yarn leaving a long tail. Turn work inside out to cast off.

Casting off: (this is the easiest method that I use).

Useful tip: I find it's easiest to turn the whole thing inside out if I transfer the remaining stitches onto safety pins first - the whole they have to fit through is tiny so I don't trust myself to try and get a needle through there or just take the stitches off the needle altogether. Once the sock is inside out, put the stitches back on two needles.

Knit together 1 stitch from each needle twice (so 2 stitches on the right hand needle), pass first stitch over 2nd to cast off as usual. Repeat until everything is cast off.

Maybe that should've been Digby the biggest blog post in the world....

Tuesday, 4 December 2007

Mixed Feelings

Have to admit... I'm slightly disappointed with the outcome of the Mohair cardi. The fit of it just isn't right on me. Maybe it's my body shape that doesn't suit the garment rather than vice versa... either way, it's a bit boxy.

I like the style. I adore the yarn. I love the ribbon round the edging (which I would definitely include on other garments). I think the main problem with this for me is the length - I followed the pattern to the letter and I think I could've done with adding 2 inches to the length all round.

All of that said - this is the first real item of clothing I've tried to knit, and it's come out cardigan shaped and I could wear it out, so I'm not deeply upset with it. Lessons have been learned.
The pattern is from The Art of Knitting magazine (you can probably subscribe if you look up "Hatchette Partworks" on Google... it's a good series of magazines for a beginner knitter, which I am, but frankly some of the patterns are so easy my husband could probably knit them - and this a man who suggested we improvise chop sticks from my needles...)
The yarn is Sublime Kid Mohair (colour is Venetian Green) which is gorgeous and I would like to be buried in a pile of it. I used 6mm needles which explains why it took me less than a month to knit. I got the ribbon from Army and Navy haberdashery (it was something like 40p a metre. I have no idea what colour it is or anything, but it's about 1/2 a centimetre in width).
So I've forged straight on with a stocking decoration I'm knitting for Christmas. The pattern is my own, so it'll feature here in the next day or so. I'm knitting it with old nasty acrylic bought ages ago (no point on wasting good yarn on a project that will essentially see the light of day once a year). I had a bit of red left, a full ball of yellow, and some white all in DK weight, now I'm half way through the stocking and I'm not sure I have enough yarn to even finish it! Time will tell...!