Saturday, 21 June 2008

Short and Sweet

A very quick update today - to present this short and sweet shrug I made for Caroline's birthday (which is today!) I delivered it this morning and it looks fabulous on her.

It's Glint from Kim Hargreaves Nectar collection. I've become a bit of a Hargreaves groupie lately, this is my 4th project from her books in the past 6 months. Her patterns are stylish, well designed and generally well written.

This one is knit in Rowan Summer Tweed. The pattern called for 5 skeins for the small size, but I only used 4. The body is knit on 5mm needles, the edging on 4.5mm.

The colour is richer than in this picture - for no reason that makes sense to me I want to say it's velevety!

Ummmm....that's it!

Tuesday, 17 June 2008

More Stealth Knitting Revealed

These are a couple of shawls I finished in May, which I've been waiting to blog about until I knew they were safely delivered to Canada. They were both made for a dear friend who I've known since university when we worked together while I was on a work term. We shared an office with a lovely man named John, who she went on to marry a few years later. We lost touch (I'm a RUBBISH correspondent)(really rubbish) until she found my email address through a bit of detective work in April. I was so pleased to hear from her, and saddened to hear that John had passed away following some complications with eye surgery about 18 months ago.

As I couldn't reach through the internet to give her a hug, I decided to do the next best thing and picked up my knitting needles and yarn.

Whisper Shawl

I showed her a few patterns and she selected the Whisper Shawl - which as the name suggests is a very open, incredibly light pattern. The pattern didn't have a picture of the front of the shawl which is probably my only real complaint about it. In the end I quite liked the front 'collar' the pattern creates, but as I didn't have a picture of what I was knitting I was pretty dubious while it was in progress.

The shawl is knit as a half circle, with a very wide garter stitch border. The body of the shawl is a very simple 4 row pattern which knits up quickly.

The cast off row includes beading which gives a bit of weight to the lower edge. I used foil lined glass beads and I like the sparkle they added.

Knitting on the front border was pretty straightforward and the pattern for it (like the rest of the pattern) charted and easy to follow.

When it came to blocking the shawl I realised that I really need some curved blocking wires. In their absence I had to carefully pin the shawl out to a half circle shape - creating points where each of the beads were. Blocking, as always, wasn't difficult, but it was time consuming. I began by pinning the long straight edge (where my straight blocking wires were very useful) and then began drawing out the curved edge.

Basically, this entails using lots of pins. If you are slightly obsessive this entails using a crazy number of pins.

If you are me it entails using every pin you have and considering making a mad dash to the nearest shop to buy more.

The details.
Whisper Shawl Pattern - I bought it from the Yarn and Fiber Company.

I used 4 skeins of Kid Silk Haze and 6mm needles and about 350 beads.

Unblocked it was a puny 48" across the top with a 31.5" drop.
Blocked it became a majestic 66" across the top with a 42" drop.

I photographed the shawl on a rainy day in May -- I hope Faye gets better weather to wear it in!!

Clementine Shawlette

And because I've always rather liked the look of the pattern I pulled out a skein of Dream in Colour Smooshy yarn and decided to also make her the Clementine Shawlette from Interweave Knits Spring 2007. This was one of those patterns that just flew along and I really enjoyed making it.

To preserve the symmetry of the chevrons, the shawlette is knit in two pieces. The pattern suggests grafting the two pieces together, but I just cast the stitches off together and I think the effect is tidy (and faster!).

I like the casual look of the shawlette, and think it would be quite sweet with a summer dress or a pair of jeans.

Sunday, 15 June 2008

Une Chanson pour Genevieve

Last week, in response to comment I'd made that I was working on a crochet project, Fleegle posted the first ever comment to get blocked by my email filter. She said, "What are you hooking? Let everyone see your dark side!"

Obviously, Yahoo doesn't want me talking about the 'c' word on this blog. Someone call the Crochet Liberation Front!

But I laugh in the face of Yahoo crochet oppression! Ha! Here is one of my recent projects. Yet another capelet (apparently this is a real word) - this one is crochet and was made for gorgeous goddaughter Genevieve.

The pattern is Chanson en Crochet, which you can currently get for free from Interweave Knits website. It is also in Wrap Style, but word on the street is that the Wrap Style version is riddled with errors, so definitely check out the errata if you want to work from it.

The free version is corrected (wahey), and reasonably straightforward. But seriously - crochet NEEDS to adopt charting in a big way. Without a clear picture of what you're making the directions take 2 or 3 readings before you can be sure you're on the right path. A simple chart would help enormously.

That aside, it's a pretty quick project.

This version is made in Rowan Summer Tweed (4 skeins) on a 6mm hook. Summer Tweed is a silk/cotton blend and looks great, although I found crocheting with it took a bit of getting used to as it's a bit 'nobbly' and I'm used to crocheting with smooth yarns.

The finished capelet is 12 inches deep, 26 inches around the neck edge, 55 inches along the lowe edge.

I didn't make any modifications to the pattern although I did add an extra step to the finishing of the cape. I tidied up the flower motifs by threading a length of yarn through the centre petal stitches.

I handed over the capelet yesterday while out shopping with Gen and Caroline (Gen's mum) and it was a definite winner. The biggest issue seemed to be which of them would get to wear it first!

Tuesday, 10 June 2008

Random Act of Kindness Revealed

Ta da!

This is a capelet (I'm not actually sure that capelet is a word, but I've been using it a lot this week, so if it isn't it should be) that I knit up for the friend of a friend who is getting married this weekend. I've never met this friend of a friend (FoaF), or in fact know anything about her, but on Thursday last week my friend (the one I do know) mentioned that the FoaF had her wedding dress (a lovely strapless, non-meringue type dress) but was having trouble finding a scarf or something to wear if it gets chilly.

It occured to me that I had a squillion skeins of laceweight yarn and a love of knitting lacey things so I asked my friend if she thought FoaF would have any interest in something I made. A resounding yes was the answer - and so off to knit I went.

Being short of time (the wedding is this Saturday) I decided a full stole or shawl wouldn't work and so I hit on the capelet idea. I had some Kid Silk Haze in cream and some glass beads which I thought would work nicely with the ivory colour of the dress (although that's a bit iffy, I've seen a photo of the dress online, who knows what the colour is in real life). I decided on the feather and fan pattern as it meant I'd have a scalloped edge without having to knit on a border (time saving!) and 5mm needles because I thought big loose knitting would give an airy look (and would make the knitting faster!).

Basically, I crochet cast on about 70 stitches, knit 5 stitches on each end in garter stitch throughout, and divided the remaining stitches into 12 pattern repeats of feather and fan. I increased in each pattern repeat every second row for about 16 rows, then moved to increasing every forth row, then to increasing every 8th row until I had about 50 rows completed.

I knit a couple of plain rows, then added the full row of beading (that took a looooong time as there were about 450 stitches to be beaded!) on the right side, then a knit row on the wrong side. Cast off with a lace cast off to preserve the lovely scallops.

Then to finish it off I picked up the cast on stitches, beaded each of those on the right side, then a knit row on the wrong side. Finally I cast off that edge with a picot cast off.

I used a little less than 2 skeins of KSH, and about 520 small beads.

I gave the capelet a fairly lenient blocking -- I stretched the lace and just shaped the scallops by hand -- no pins!!!

I don't think these photos do it justice - I'm very pleased with the final result. The beads add a lovely bit of sparkle to the hem and neckline that the photos just don't pick up. If I were to make another one I would do fewer garter edge stitches (2 or 3) and probably add a picot to give a bit of interest to those edges. I'd also consider doing 2 rows of beading around the neckline.

The capelet is winging its way to the bride now. Of course I realise (as I have through this process) that it may not work with the dress or it might not be to FoaF's taste -- but I'm ok with that. I figure even if it doesn't feature in the big day she can pass it on to one of her friends in her own random act of kindness and EVENTUALLY it'll get its moment in the sun!!

Baby Surprise Jacket Collar
Emily asked in the comments how I did the collar on the BSJ. It was pretty straightforward really, after seaming the sleeves I picked up about 16 stitches along the left neck edge, a similar amount along the back neck edge, and then 16 stitches along the right neck edge. Don't worry about the exact number of stitches - 16ish is fine. Then I knit about 15 or 16 rows in garter stitch and cast off. Voila! A collar!

One of the things I love about keeping the blog is when someone new stumbles across it and comments on older posts. Some of you might recall the crisis of confidence I faced last year when it seemed IMPOSSIBLE to find a Wyoming-ite to read the blog. Well, Janet dropped by a couple of days ago and she is indeed from Wyoming! Way to go Wyoming! She filled me in on the Wyoming knitting scene and recommended a good little LYS if I'm ever in the neighbourhood. Thanks Janet!

Sunday, 8 June 2008

Finally - The Friends and Family Prize

If you are a family member still struggling to come to grips with not winning the 'Friends and Family' prize from my contest you may want to look away now.

For the rest of you - I present Shirl wearing her new shrug.

She asked for a shrug and after reviewing a few options settled on this - the Enchant shrug from Kim Hargreaves' latest collection: Nectar.

When I first looked at the pattern description online I thought this would be a quick knit, with minimal sewing up. Errrrr - not quite.

The body of the shrug is knit in one piece from cuff to cuff, and that is plain stockinette and does move quite quickly. But what I hadn't realised was that the sleeve and body edging is all knit separately and then stitched on. So much for minimal sewing!!

The edging pattern is k 1 row, purl 1 row, purl 1 row, knit 1 row - which gives a sort of double time garter ridge. There are small picots knit at the beginning of every right side row.

Oh - and there is about 6 1/2 feet of it. (I had barely made a dent in the front edging when I took this picture.)

I confess that I was dreading sewing the edging on. Seaming is not my strong point (perhaps that is why I like knitting lace scarves!) and was really worried I wouldnt be able to do it neatly enough....

But, I'd promised Shirl this shrug, so a-seaming I would go. Last Sunday I woke up early, drank a strong cup of fortifying tea, cleared the kitchen table to work on, picked up my darning needle and started stitching.

And I stitched.

And stitched.

And 5 1/2 hours (yep, 5 1/2 hours) later I had completed the last seam.

It was a good reminder that I CAN do neat seams - but that I need to take the time and space to do them properly.

The hard part over, I gave the sweater a steam block, made up a little label and voila! The last of the blogivesary prizes ready for presentation.

I met up with Shirl on Friday and handed over the shrug and she seems very pleased with it. Hurrah!!

The details:
Enchant from Nectar by Kim Hargreaves
Rowan Calmer in 'Calm', 5 balls (cotton, polyesther blend)
5mm needles (and a very tired darning needle)

Rowan Calmer has a stretch to it which takes a little getting used to, but it is gorgeously soft and (despite what the label says) is machine washable.

As with most Kim Hargreaves designs, the pattern is clear and easy to follow.

Random Act of Kindness
This little white cloud of fluff will be a random act of kindness (if it is completed SOON) or, a fluffy white thing I knit which I don't really have any use for (if it isn't). So I'm off to knit.

Sunday, 1 June 2008

First glimpse of stealth knitting .... and a bit about me

This cute little cardigan and hat were knit for a friend's newborn, and were delivered to the proud Papa this week. I was quite excited to finally have a baby I could knit the famous Elizabeth Zimmerman Baby Surprise Jacket for. I like the result, but I have to admit that the real attraction in knitting this pattern is the diabolically clever design -- knit in one piece it is shaped with a series of strategically placed decreases, and then increases and looks like a rectangular lumpy blanket when it's done. Then, with a flip of the writst it folds onto itself to create a cardigan shape.

The hat is a straightforward no pattern required sort of thing. Cast on a bunch of stitches (I did 108) onto DPNs (I used 2.75mm), join, knit and knit and knit (about 10-11 cm), then start decreasing to the centre. I did six evenly spaced decreases every second round
row 1: (knit 16, k2tog) 6times
row 2: knit
row 3: (knit 15, k2tog) 6times
row 4: knit
until I got to 36 stitches, then I decreased every round until I got to 12 stitches. Pulled the yarn through them, and Bob's your uncle, here's your hat.

The yarn is Skinny Duet Yarn -- a superwash yarn that comes with a small skein of contrasting yarn -- perfect for the button band on the cardigan! (Speaking of the button band, they aren't too clear in the picture, but I found the cutest little mouse buttons to finish off the cardigan.)

And While We're Waiting....

Robin has tagged me with a meme -- and while I wait for the remaining stealth projects to be cleared for blogging I thought I'd answer!

1) What was I doing 10 years ago?
Ummm....May 1998 I had just moved back to Toronto following 8 years in London so I was probably settling into my new house in my old neighbourhood. (I've since returned to London.)(I'm flighty.)

2) What are five things on my to-do list today (not in any particular order)?
I'm a list freak at the office, nothing makes me happier than lots of items being crossed off a long to do list. But at home - I'm not so into the to do list thing. I tend to just do whatever takes my fancy. (Having said that, I really wanted to finish one of my stealth project today and I have. Yippeee! It'll be delivered later this week.)

3) What snacks do I enjoy?.
I am a savoury snack person with a particular weakness for crisps. Pretty much any flavour (except prawn cocktail).(Bleccchhh.)

4) What are some places I've lived?
As established in question 1 I'm a bit flighty. So some of the places I've lived are: Fredericton NB (born there, but we moved when I was very young, and I went to university there), Toronto (4 times), Calgary, London (twice), just outside Quebec City (Valcartier), North Bay, Bathurst and of course the glamour capital of the world - Doyleville where my parents live.

5) What things would I do if I were a billionaire?
I would give tons away to charity, lots to my family and loved ones, and of course a few gifts to my blog readers! Then I'd open a shop called Things Soo Likes. In the shop I would only stock things I like. It would be a sort of book/cd/dvd shop, specialising in the books, music and films I like. So I'd carry John Irving's "Cider House Rules" (which I liked) but not his "Son of the Circus" (which I couldn't even finish). There would naturally be lots of yarn, and cushy chairs for loitering. I would only open when I felt like it, and I expect I'd only sell to people I like. Amazingly I have yet to find any investors.

If, like me, you need a bit of blog material consider yourself tagged!