Thursday, October 28, 2010
I came across this book one day at my local secondhand bookstore, The Country Diary Book of Knitting by Annette Mitchell. Published in 1987, the designs in it are based on Edith Holden's book The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady showing English country scenes in watercolor. The author of the knitting book is described as a teacher and knitwear designer, but I've never heard of her before. Ten other designers also contributed patterns to the book, but their names and what each one contributed are listed in the small print on the last few pages.
The book has designs for every season and all family members. There are accessories and toys. If one ignores the 1980s atrocities that you can't help but see in books published in the 1980s!, there's inspiration to be found. Below are my favorites.
Many of the original yarns aren't around any more, but I thought this sweater could be done in Cascade Yarns Eco Wool, or else in a chunky acrylic/wool blend for more softness. It was originally done in a Sirdar chunky yarn.
I could see this sweater knit in something like Black Water Abbey yarn, which is a crisp, heathery yarn, or else something wonderful like Alice Starmore's Bainin, which she has started offering again. The guy's scarf (same as the woman's above) is the pattern I'm using for my scarf in Fishermen's Wool.
For this sweater, I could see using plain old Cascade 220 because it doesn't require anything fancier. Recently, I saw one nearly identical to this on Ravelry, listed as a new design, which tells me this is a classic.
I would have thought this one was from Meg Swansen or one of her summer campers.
This reminds me of a Kim Hargreaves design in A Yorkshire Fable. It's got huge bobbles on the front, guaranteed to cause any knitter grief.
And the last has many nice elements, though I wouldn't wear them all at once. I love that big cowl, the mittens, and the sweater underneath. All are knit in DK weight yarn, and I don't know what I would use here.
When I see these pictures together, they look so much like pages from a Rowan magazine. A vintage Rowan perhaps, but that's all right in my book.
Update: I returned three of the four skeins of the Fishermen's Wool to Joann's. I'd already knit up about a third of the remaining skein and decided to look up reviews of this yarn on Ravelry. Well, let me say that before this, I was disappointed to see on the label that this yarn is made in China (it used to be made in the US). On Ravelry, there were wildly varying reviews, from "it's okay and a workhorse yarn" to "it's awful and I'll never use it again." The quality control on this yarn seems poor, and people noted weird smells and strange stuff spun into the yarn, like plastic and long hair. I don't mind rusticity, but I do mind stuff in my yarn that's not supposed to be there!
After being creeped out by some of the reviews, I did give my yarn a bath today and it was pretty dirty. I admit to just popping my half-knitted scarf into the bath, still on the needles, to get it clean! We'll see what happens down the road there. But it seems to have bloomed nicely.
All of this by way of saying, it's important to do my research before buying a new yarn!
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
I posted a while ago about an eight-legged project I was working on, and it's finally finished. This cute guy came from the book by Hansi Singh called Amigurumi Knits. My son really wanted the octopus because he's interested in underwater life. I got the tentacles done and put together and then poor octopus sat that way for some time. Every now and then my son would ask about his octopus, and then he stopped asking. Fueled by "mom guilt," I finally sat down and completed the head and grafted top to bottom. It really was an afternoon's work yesterday and then 45 minutes to seam today.
Not only am I and the recipient happy with it, but I got to learn some great techniques in the process. I can see that's where these small projects can really pay off. I learned fake grafting and some things about short rowing I didn't know could be done, such as having numerous wraps on one stitch. I can't say that all this fiddly stuff is the most pleasant knitting, but it's good to learn something new.
I also cranked out my Toast arm warmers and have been wearing them nonstop:
These were done in Classic Elite Portland Tweed, which I knew I would like. It's a heavier yarn than I thought it was. And this is another reason small projects are so great: you get to try out lots of different yarns. I don't know if I'd want a whole sweater out of Portland Tweed, but it's pretty nice. Maybe a vest. . .
I also started a pair in Queensland Collection Leche. These will have the thumb option. Leche is kind of a weird yarn. It's 40% merino, 30% microfiber, 20% milk protein and 10% silk. It knits up very thickly, and I notice the microfiber as kind of a plastic-y feel. But I want to see how it wears, if there's any pilling or if it's sturdy.
I've also been knitting away on the Noro squares and have five of them done now. I hope all these colors find some cohesion at some point! The Kureyon is very rustic and either it, or all the short rows, or my bamboo needles is being very hard on my hands. The minute I switch to another project it's easier going. I'll try the Addi Turbos and see if that makes a difference, but in the meantime, I got myself distracted by some more rustic knitting:
A simple ribbed scarf. The yarn is --gasp-- Lion Brand Fisherman's Wool. I've been wanting to try this yarn, and Joann's obliged by having a "buy two" sale, so I'm trying it out now. The scarf is in a brownish grey color, but these three also came home with me. Three huge skeins is enough for a cabled sweater.
This yarn is very rustic, and very sheepy smelling when steamed (like, may be a bit of ram in this batch!). I want to know how much it softens and blooms after a soak in Eucalan, but it sure seems hard wearing. I have some ideas for a project that will have to wait till next post!
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
The Harry Potter scarf is finished--we're ready for Halloween! The scarf turned out well and is just the right size. I'm sure only a knitter would think this, but a hand knitted scarf makes all the difference. That and the wand my son and his dad made: They rigged up a light bulb at the end and colored the brown tape to look like wood. My own Halloween costume is coming along, but it's more complicated (involves sewing).
I also finished my scarf, although it's not the one I told you about in the last post. I was thinking aloud to fellow Raveler Lisette (Ilovescarves) about my Malabrigo, and she mentioned she'd made the scarf Just Enough Ruffles with two skeins of Malabrigo. Of course it was the perfect pattern for this yarn. The scarf is by Cosmicpluto, and I somehow managed to get it on sale for $2.80 during Rhinebeck Weekend (but normally it's just $3.50). I ordered up the pattern, and the scarf came together so quickly. Here's the result:
Just off the needles, my gray scarf looked a bit like an octopus's tentacle wound around my neck! I was a little worried, but some steaming got the ruffles under control. Thanks, Lisette, for suggesting this pattern! By the way, if you haven't seen her Ravelry page (she's ilovescarves), go right now and look at it. She has some amazing projects, and they're all photographed so prettily.
Yesterday I visited a new yarn shop in the area, Serial Knitters Yarn Shop in Kirkland, WA. We've had a few shops close in the last few years, so it was good to see one open, and also to see that one of my favorite staff members from an old shop has resurfaced at this one. I didn't get to stay very long, but I liked what I saw. The shop has good natural light and carries many yarns I like: Rowan, Habu, Debbie Bliss, Mirasol, and Noro to name a few--along with some I haven't tried: Hazel Knits, Madeline Tosh. But something they do that I haven't seen anywhere else is sell their customers' knitting and crochet books on consignment. What a great idea, because everyone has books they'd like to move along. With the sale of the books, the customer earns "yarn points" to spend in the shop. Look what came home with me:
Rowan 36 on the right is one of the last volumes where Kim Hargreaves is designing for the company, and there are lots of gorgeous things in it. Rowan Book 10 is the most sought-after of the early publications. It features designs by all the Rowan heavy hitters (Kaffe Fassett has some of his best work in here), and Kate Moss as a model when she was still an unknown. The third one is Kim Hargreaves' Thrown Together. I paid half the original cover price for these, which made them a very good deal indeed, since Rowan Book 10 goes for a lot on eBay. Needless to say, I'll be visiting Serial Knitters again soon, and may even check out the yarn next time.
Next up are some arm warmers using the popular Toast pattern on Ravelry, and then on to some of the other things on my list like Christmas knitting. Hope you're having fun with your fall knitting, too!
Thursday, October 14, 2010
I finished my Haven scarf yesterday and can't wait to start wearing it. This is from Kim Hargreaves' book Heartfelt and I think it's the first thing I've made from the book, although I've admired about every design in it. I got some Cocoon in a Ravelry trade with a local gal and really wanted to make something nice with it. The two sweaters I started just didn't grab me, and then I read on Ravelry how this yarn pills horribly (and saw proof of that from someone who made a sweater out of it). So I abandoned the sweater project and decided to make Haven, my logic being that a scarf will not pill as badly as a sweater (we'll see). I still have two balls leftover, and someone suggested the Bella mittens. I think that's a great idea.
October is a weird month because there's Halloween, and our family likes to make stuff for Halloween. I'm sewing my own costume this year, for example. In years past, I've also made my son's costume, but this year we bought a Harry Potter robe for him. The Gryffindor scarves at the store looked purple, not maroon, and so I decided to knit one:
I made it 7-year-old size, so it's just 4 inches wide, knit in the round with cheap yarn. Doesn't show here, but it is a true maroon, not cranberry. So that's coming along--5 more repeats left, and fringe. Of course, it wasn't on my list of fall projects, and neither is this next project featuring:
yes, Malabrigo. After seeing what looked like a nice grey at the shop where I work, I just had to try it out. I bought enough to make Idlewood by Cecily G. MacDonald. Everything was going along well, or so I thought.
Let's say I'm not happy with my first Malabrigo experience! The variegations in the skein started pooling and, in my color, left darker "smudges" of grey that looked dirty next to the lighter ones. It's funny because the yarn doesn't look like it would have that effect in the skein. Even if I alternated balls of yarn, I didn't want the stripey look for this sweater, so it was frogged. Since I had wound two of the skeins, I can't return them, so I found another project for these and will return the other two that I bought.
While perusing Anthropologie's website, I noticed a lot of these big loopy cowls for fall:
Since I needed loooong color repeats, I thought this would be just the thing. I'm using a Drops pattern, although a pattern isn't really necessary. Below is the cowl doubled around the neck. It's pretty much just stockinette with garter borders. Such a long circle gives me a better chance of eliminating the pooling with this yarn. But I think I'm done with Malabrigo. I don't like finicky yarn!
I also saw on the Anthropologie website something that made me smile:
Fake fox stoles! But did you catch the prices on these?! Well, it makes me want to dig out my own Vegan Fox that has been hibernating a very long time. Who knows when people will be wearing them again. Mine's a silver fox, by the way.
So, while I did knit something with one of my chosen yarns for Fall 2010, I've gotten myself off on a tangent with these other projects. I'm also considering joining the Slogalong in Stash & Burn's group on Ravelry to finish up even more WIPs.
Oh, Melody asked about my drawing, which seems to have vanished from this blog! Well, I really miss it and fully intend to get back to my little studio soon. I still have a partially finished drawing of a cat and lots of ideas percolating for other things. So stay tuned :o)