Sunday, 26 April 2015

A Ruby Thursday Viajante

Remember when I finally bought my first hank of Wollmeise Lace in a lovely red Ruby Thursday colourway? It's now turned into a Viajante! I finished it mid-January, but didn't get around to taking decent photos until April due to the weather. I love this shawl! It is coming in handy this spring and I have it with me on holiday in Cornwall right now, instead of a cardigan.

Viajante took me 2 months to knit and it certainly felt a lot longer than that. The shawl is knitted in stocking stitch for the most part with a little bit of garter stitch at the start and a very simple lace edging around the bottom. You increase stitches as you go so every row takes longer and longer to finish. That does get tiring, especially if you are like me and like a challenge.

Because of course I can't stick to instructions

I had to make a few alterations. I'd been advised to make the garter stitch sections a little larger since it would function as a cowl and it might be too tight if I stopped when the instructions suggested. So I continued until I had 181 stitches in total, which seems fine. I really like the cowl bit. Another change I made was a necessary one: since I am much larger than most people, I had to make sure the body of the shawl would be wide enough for me. As a result, I increased stitches more frequently to fit shoulders and bust.

You may be able to tell that the lace edging isn't as open as on other people's images. This is because I have not blocked the shawl. I can hear shocked gasps from the experienced knitters here! I always block my shawls, but this one is so large that I have no room to do so. I might just block the edging at some point, though, because I would really like it to show off the lace more than it does now. That would also increase the shawl's size a little bit, which would be great. I do actually wish the shawl was a little larger and blocking would fix that.

Hey, I know how to do this! Not.

Of course, not everything worked out perfectly: I was already 4 rows into the main body of my Viajante when I realised that the designer's m1 increase is not at all done the same way I usually do it. She does explain her way, but of course I did not read it because I thought, "Hey, I know how to do an m1, I've done it before!" I should simply have read the instructions... So I changed my increase on row 5 instead. On Ravelry, there are lots of tips for an even better increase that will make the spine look much more even. I wish I had taken these knitters' advice!

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Kir Royale: I Do Love a Nice Cocktail

So that might explain why I chose to knit the Kir Royale shawl (design by Melanie Berg) as a shop sample for A Yarn Story. Nice, isn't it?

I loved knitting this shawl and it has an interesting construction. It's knitted in one piece even though the cabling is knitted sideways while the rest is top down. The main body is knitted in a slipped garter stitch pattern that I love - it looks far more complicated a stitch than it really is. The cabling was fun to do and the ruffles look great along the edges.

The yarn is amazing to work with: it's velvety soft and luscious (watch out for my review soon on the A Yarn Story blog - I will link to it when it goes online). I would love to have a jumper in this yarn because I know it would definitely keep me warm and I would want to wear it all the time. I used Sweet Georgia's Superwash DK (merino) in the colourway Mist. I can unreservedly recommend this yarn, it's fantastic! I needed three hanks to finish the shawl.

I have only one issue with this piece that other knitters on Ravelry have also pointed out in their project notes: due to the shawl's construction, you end up with a pointy top edge that is impossible to block out. It may depend on what type of yarn you use, but like many I was unable to make the shawl look anything like a crescent despite aggressive blocking. This makes wearing it a little awkward because you end up needing to fold over the top. That makes for an interesting look, so if you don't mind it, it will look great worn this way, too. I actually like it, but of course it shortens the depth of the shawl and makes it look much smaller than it really is.

Have you knitted a Melanie Berg pattern before? I know there are a lot of fans out there. Or have you used this particular yarn before? I'd love to hear what you thought of it.

Saturday, 18 April 2015

Another Day at the Bath Artisan Market

As you know, I live in Bath and we are lucky enough to have a regular artisan market in the heart of the city. Once a month, Green Park Station plays host to an array of makers, most of them local, and it is a great place to visit on a Sunday. You find all sorts of crafts and craftsmanship here, ranging from local food and drink, vintage, sewing, handmade beauty products, jewellery of all descriptions, art and on this occasion even unicorn shoes (colourfully decorated horseshoe shapes).

You will also find the obligatory stand of baby knits, knitted and crocheted little gifts. This month I found this:

Wouldn't they make the perfect yarn butler? They come with nice sharp scissors, too. The base is made from driftwood collected on the southwest coast, which features greatly in Oh My Lovely's work. You should definitely have a look - they are regulars at the market.

I also chatted to Lydia from Black Dog Ginger Cat whom I know from Twitter. I have long admired her very realistic renderings of animals in needlefelt. My favourites are her boxing hares and, of course, Bess the Exmoor pony

Tempted yet? The next market is on 10th May at Green Park Station. if you happen to be in Bath on the right Sunday, this is the place to be. live music, food, drink and lots of artisan craftsmanship. I can personally vouch for the food and drink, which has always been good and I have bought many things here and there over the past few years. I'll definitely be coming back again. Maybe I'll see you there?

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Creative Collaboration: Abso-knitting-lutely and Hand Dyed By Kate

Grey and rainbow stripes for March

As you may know, this year I am collaborating with Kate from Hand Dyed By Kate who is running a yarn club for stripy sock yarn. Exclusively for her, I have been making lots of little sock-shaped stitch markers, both for knitting and crochet, coordinating with the stripes of her yarn. Every month there are new mystery colours and it has been fun and lots of hard work to make markers to match as closely as possible. My stripy sock stitch markers are available exclusively in Kate's yarn club, not in my shop. Click the link to join in.

Spring Into Darkness: Knitting Pattern Now Available

You have been patient and the wait has finally come to an end: Spring Into Darkness is now available on Ravelry and will soon be on LoveKnitting as well.

This is a lacy snood that's great for spring and autumn when the weather can be a little chilly, but not cold enough for a scarf. Like an infinity scarf, Spring into Darkness is a seamless loop. The lace pattern resembles stylised flowers and leaves. The snood is knitted flat and then grafted to form a loop. You can make a wider snood if you prefer simply by increasing the cast on in 16 stitch intervals. The snood requires a full hank of Countess Ablaze 4-ply yarn.
Required skills:

Provisional cast on
Increases and decreases
Kitchener stitch or similar for grafting

I have included written instructions as well as a chart, so you can choose whichever you are most comfortable working with.

I hope you enjoy it!

Saturday, 11 April 2015

Mabel and Bird Pouch for Knitting Notions

I happen to be lucky enough to live near the Bath Artisan Market that takes place once a month and it was at one of those markets that I came across Mabel and Bird. I loved Emma's screen printed textiles, the pillows, key rings and cards. Sadly, I did not buy anything at the time and always wished I had.

Luckily, Mabel and Bird sell on their own website as well as Etsy and I fell in love with the linen screen printed scalloped pouch immediately. It is just the right size for knitting notions so I had to buy it.

I keep my KnitPro cables in it now, my knitting needle gauge, row counters, cable needles and all other bits and bobs that would otherwise get lost. The pouch is well made, too, and I like the pink contrast zip on it. The inside is lined with  more printed fabric with grey triangles. This lining shows through the linen a bit.

There was a slight delay between order and shipping, but Emma got in touch with me right away to let me know. To make up for it, she included the lovely extras you see above: a fun key ring (actually, it is a smaller version of the ones I saw when Emma sold at the market and I was very keen on them - such a wonderful coincidence). Also included was a crown brooch and a hand printed cards. I love everything!

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

One Lovely Blog Award

Fizzi-Jayne makes surprised me with her nomination for the One Lovely Blog Award: me! Thank you! It has been fun to read her blog post about the award, including the facts about her.
So what is the One Lovely Blog Award? Well, bloggers nominate newer fellow bloggers for the most part. There are exceptions since, obviously, my blog has been around for a long time now. The goal of the award is to bring attention to those blogs we think are simply lovely. It is a way to acknowledge these bloggers and their work in their little slice of the interwebs.

  Now, in order to accept the award, the nominated blogger must follow these rules:

  • Thank the person who nominated you & link back to them in your post
  • Share seven facts about yourself
  • Nominate 10 other bloggers for the award

The facts:

  1. I have lived in 3 different countries and also have 3 native languages, one of which I have nearly completely forgotten now.
  2. I am a doctor, but not the medical kind.
  3. I love to cook, but am rubbish at baking except when it comes to bread, which I bake regularly to avoid the shop-bought kind.
  4. In my yearbook at school in Germany, people said about me that I would one day live in the UK - and here I am!
  5. I spent my gap year working with severely mentally challenged adults.
  6. I got my driving licence at 20 and never drove again.
  7. I am a published author.
My nominations are as follows (many may not respond as they are very busy and specialised, but I want to at least mention them as they are fantastic bloggers):

Blue Eggs and Tea
Plutnonium Muffins
Durch das wilde Kinzigtal
Woollen Wilderness
Noget Uldent
Stitched Together

Monday, 6 April 2015

Knitting Trout: Bachforelle

Believe it or not, I first began knitting this snood four years ago. In August 2011 I cast on a larger version of Kleine Bachforelle by Ute Sturm, a narrow lacy stole pattern originally written in German. There is an English version available which I used. Bachforelle is German for river trout. These little fish float about along the entire length of the scarf with beads as bubbles in the water.

The pattern is very daunting and was very confusing for me. I could not make any sense of it until my friend Wendy made me a full chart that combined all the little charts the original pattern contains on several pages. Having it all in one piece made it so much easier and without Wendy's help I wouldn't even have been able to start.

There are a few modifications, too: my version is twice as wide as the original and I have changed the sequence in which the fish appear. At first I started knitting with a skein of Noro Kureyon Sock, but it quickly became obvious that you couldn't actually see the fish due to the variegation. Instead, I cast on again using the lovely Fyberspates Scrumptious lace in teal. (The photos don't all show the colour well, but they're close.)

I did not get very far and so this WIP languished for three years before I picked it up again. I lost my place in the pattern and somehow things just didn't work, so I had to ask Wendy for help again. Once I got going, it was easy! Sadly, I stopped again because I got bored. The beading can take quite long and I had to pay close attention to what I was doing the rest of the time as well. A fourth year passed before I picked it up again this March.

After just two rows I knew I couldn't face knitting any more of it, so I cast off at the end of a chart repeat and turned the stole into a snood instead. Ta da! Problem solved without unravelling. 

I blocked everything before sewing the ends together to form a loop. The snood now consists of two different patterns: the swimming fish pattern of the main body and a length of beaded lace, almost like ribbing, that was the edging of the original stole at both ends. I like that these two are combined in one snood because it makes the pattern more interesting.

I used denim-coloured beads from Debbie Abrahams in size 8, which is perfect for lace and 4-ply. (On the site you will also find beads for DK in size 6.) I love beaded knits and am very happy with this project despite it taking so long and little knitting time going into it, all in all. I can't wait to wear it this spring and will probably take it with me to Cornwall on holiday later this month.

What is your longest WIP? What would you have done if you came across this project after four years - continue, rip or something else?

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

New Knitting Pattern Coming Soon: Spring Into Darkness Snood

When I bought a skein of Countess Ablaze's sparkly 4-ply in the wonderful colourway Nerds Prefer Their Rainbows Darker, I knew I wanted to knit something special with it. Not another pair of socks, the yarn is much too pretty for that! So in the end I decided to design my own pattern and make a lacy snood.

Cue Spring Into Darkness, a snood that requires just one skein of yarn (100 g/400 m). The lace pattern resembles stylised flowers. I knitted it flat and grafted the ends together to form a loop and after blocking it was just the right size for a snood. I will be wearing it in spring to keep the chill away around my neck, but I can also pull it over my head to keep my ears warm if I need to. Blocked, it measures 40 x 50 cm. The fabric feels nice and light because of the lace.

I hope to publish the pattern on Ravelry and LoveKnitting (just search for Absoknittinglutely) this month.