Monday Make Update

I think we can definitely say that we've become acclimatized to the UK weather as last week's freezing temperatures and snow with the "Beast from the East" was horribly frigid! While the snow was piling up outside (and then melting on Sunday as quickly as it came) it was the perfect excuse to cosy up inside with my knitting and just plug away at getting a few things further along.

New winter mitts for Mr. H. Just in time for, er, spring?

New winter mitts for Mr. H. Just in time for, er, spring?

First up - a finish! Mr. H has been nagging me about finishing these fingerless mittens for him that were originally meant to be a Christmas present. Not nagging per se, but very pointed questions when I'm heading off to knit night as to which project I'm planning to work on and are the mittens included. The cheek!

These are a test knit for Kate Bostwick of Cowtown Knits and a really clever design. There is also the option to make them full mittens, or a combination flip top, or even warmer with thrums. I fell in love with the cable pattern when Kate was working on them at knit night before she moved back to Calgary and agreed to test knit them. The yarn is Tanis Fiber Arts Green Label Aran Weight in Lemongrass from deep stash - leftovers from a hat I knit Harrison when he was a toddler which he and his dad lost one day on the bus. Sigh. Happily, the colour is a perfect match to his winter jacket.

I opted to make the fingerless mitts for H as he was given a phone for Christmas and I thought it would make it easier for using the phone. He's starting to do little errands for us to the shops and go to and from school on his own in preparation for next year at the upper school so it's nice to have him call when he's on his way somewhere. Update: he just came home from school and told me he liked them so much that he wore them all day in class. Is this one knit-worthy kid or what?!

Working on Winter Dawn is like creating a giant watercolour gradient. Am loving the meditative quality of this project!

Working on Winter Dawn is like creating a giant watercolour gradient. Am loving the meditative quality of this project!

This weekend I also make some excellent progress on Winter Dawn by Tabetha Hedrick. This is the project from the SweetGeorgia Yarns Advent Calendar from this past December. I wish I'd thought to get some pictures of it in the snow last week but I was ill with a migraine on Friday and those plans ended up right out the window.

Just like working with stripes or colourwork this project has been addictive! There's that internal hustle of "just one more colour" urging me on. The different textures are keeping things interesting too. I'm curious what will happen when I get to the end as I didn't pay close attention to the pattern at the beginning so cut my first colour yarn early and joined the next one and slowly my rows have been increasing in how much they are off, to the point where I'm doing one pattern section now in a completely different colour. Oh well, it's a lovely gradient and I'm sure it will look gorgeous no matter what at the end. Fingers crossed I can finish it in time to use as a sample at the H+H trade show coming up later this month in Germany!

Will I look as easy-breezy in the same sweater when mine is finished? Probably not!

Will I look as easy-breezy in the same sweater when mine is finished? Probably not!

Finally - I decided I was done knitting the swatch for a sweater I'm planning to do on the knitting machine. I'm swatching to see if I'm happy with the fabric that the sweater is meant to have, and then I can try to approximate it for the project. I still need to figure out how my ribber works though so fingers crossed I can make some time for that later this week too.

How are your own makes coming along? Any progress during the Beast from the East?

Lush-cious WIP Wednesday

My boys are back - hooray!

Now it's all about getting back into the swing of things and our routine was already disrupted this week due to the bank holiday so once again I feel like I'm playing catch up!

Top left: you can see the original half panel that I'd knit then completely buggered. When I started again I made it rather more complicated by slipping the provisional stitches only another needle almost immediate, then knitting from both sides for a bit before removing the waste yarn to confirm that everything was "as it should be".

Top left: you can see the original half panel that I'd knit then completely buggered. When I started again I made it rather more complicated by slipping the provisional stitches only another needle almost immediate, then knitting from both sides for a bit before removing the waste yarn to confirm that everything was "as it should be".

There's a few things happening on the needles but what I'm most excited about is the progress I made on the Lush knit-a-long (or KAL for short) while the boys were away. I had started the lace panel before they left but ended up making a mess of the provisional cast on and picking up stitches so had to start over two days before I left for Paris!

You can see here how the lace works outward from the centre in two directions. I love this gorgeous leaf motif. The lace panel needs to be blocked to the right width before you can pick up the stitches for the collar or the body. Which is why I was in a rush to get this done so that I could take it with me as my train knitting to Paris!

You can see here how the lace works outward from the centre in two directions. I love this gorgeous leaf motif. The lace panel needs to be blocked to the right width before you can pick up the stitches for the collar or the body. Which is why I was in a rush to get this done so that I could take it with me as my train knitting to Paris!

The construction of this sweater is one of the things that attracted me to this KAL. I love that designer Emily Wessel has taken what is really a very simple, top-down cardigan and made it fresh and interesting with the way that it starts. The "challenging" bit, the lace panel yoke, is done right off the bat, and then the collar and body are picked up from the edges and knit up and down to complete the rest of the sweater.

Nothing like knitting in a Paris cafe! The collar well under way.

Nothing like knitting in a Paris cafe! The collar well under way.

Being a top-down sweater the really great advantage is being able to try the sweater on as you go, to make sure that it is fitting how you like and allowing you to make adjustments along the way. I'm a little longer in the torso so I knit about an inch longer before starting the waist shaping. I also wanted a slightly longer sweater, so opted to knit the body and inch or two longer before starting the ribbing at the bottom.

A couple of days later in Paris and the collar was done and I was onto the body of the sweater.

A couple of days later in Paris and the collar was done and I was onto the body of the sweater.

Once into the body of the sweater, the knitting is pretty straight forward and makes for good social knitting. Or train, car, tv and pub knitting. Once I was back from Paris the following weekend it was off to Wonderwool so there were plenty of long stretches on the road where I could watch a movie on the train with my knitting!

Close up of the lace yoke - isn't it fabulous?

Close up of the lace yoke - isn't it fabulous?

Just the sleeves and the button band to go!

Just the sleeves and the button band to go!

Knowing that I consider myself to be a pretty slow knitter, I have to say how incredibly pleased I am with what a relatively quick knit this cardigan has turned out to be! It's now just on to the sleeves and button band, although I confess that now I'm close to the end I've allowed myself to be distracted by other things, like a wee design project with Rachel.

With any luck I may be able to finish this in the next few weeks! 

Vodka Lemonade: Sunshine on a Cloudy Day

Starting this sweater in March I was hoping to be done by May, but apparently large swaths of stockinette stitch are my kryptonite  . And what with being the world's pokiest knitter anyway, this project kind of fell by the wayside until I got home from summer holidays and realised how little there really was to do!

Pattern:  Vodka Lemonade  by Thea Colman   Yarn:  SweetGeorgia Yarns Superwash DK  in Lemon Curd   Yardage (for the Pre-Process Stashdown 2013): 920 yards   Click the photo to go to my Ravelry project notes    

Pattern: Vodka Lemonade by Thea Colman
Yarn: SweetGeorgia Yarns Superwash DK in Lemon Curd
Yardage (for the Pre-Process Stashdown 2013): 920 yards
Click the photo to go to my Ravelry project notes  

Just as I'd hoped it would be, this sweater is now my favourite go-to when I want to grab something quickly as I'm heading out the door. The yarn is soft and comfortable but hard-wearing at the same time and I am in LOVE with the colour. It makes me SO happy! It's cheerful and bright, and in retrospect now is the perfect time to finish the sweater as we start heading into greyer days here in the UK. 

  Lots of little details broke up the monotony of the stockinette

 Lots of little details broke up the monotony of the stockinette

The pattern by Thea Colman (of Baby Cocktails) is also lovely. Her attention to the little details are what I think really make this sweater stand out. From the seed stitch collar to the button-less edging and the raglan detail and lace panels - all combine to take a beautifully simple sweater and elevate it to the next level. 

  Thanks to Karen for taking these photos while we were exploring the colleges at Cambridge during her visit!

 Thanks to Karen for taking these photos while we were exploring the colleges at Cambridge during her visit!

This was my first every top-down sweater and I have to say that I'm now a huge fan! Being able to try on the sweater as I was knitting it was a huge bonus and considering this is only the second sweater I've ever knit for myself with sleeves, I appreciate being able to try it on and have less opportunity to screw it up! My pal Jen also helped with some great pointers about fit when she had me try on the sweater this summer and I thought the flexibility of being able to adjust the size mid-knit was fantastic.

The sweater also looks just as good over a dress as it does with jeans - giving a little vintage vibe! The one thing I thought might bug me though, sadly does. I'm not used to a cardigan without buttons (my still-as-yet-unfinished Central Park Hoodie not withstanding) so that's taking a little getting used to. In the meantime, I've found a fab vintage-inspired pin to fasten the sweater closed when I don't want to be fussing with it all the time.

This definitely won't be the last Baby Cocktails pattern that I knit. In fact, I'm already contemplating Sambuca.  But for now I'm sticking to smaller things until the end of the year. It's time to switch over to Christmas knitting next!

Zag-ing when I meant to zig

Hello! Gosh, it feels like it's been ages, doesn't it? I've been planning all kinds of things to chat about on the blog, but then was thwarted today by not being able to access some photos from Mr. H's birthday party that I wanted to share with you. Perhaps tomorrow? 

In the meantime I've decided to jump on the Yarn Photo a Day challenge for October that Rachel invited folks to join in on . If nothing else, hopefully it will be motivation for me to figure out how to get my Twitter feed running on the side of the blog! I posted two photos today:

My Vodka Lemonade is coming along! Just finished the decreases for the waist and am knitting merrily away through the body now.  

My Vodka Lemonade is coming along! Just finished the decreases for the waist and am knitting merrily away through the body now. 

  A new project I started at the after part for the Great London Yarn Crawl - the Hierro mittens from the latest issue of PomPom Quarterly.

 A new project I started at the after part for the Great London Yarn Crawl - the Hierro mittens from the latest issue of PomPom Quarterly.

 

I've also got a wee project off the needles to show you! Except that I've entered it in a design competition at TOFT to see if I can win some of their yummy alpaca yarn (there's incentive for you!). But how about a sneak peek?

      A little mix of TOFT Chunky knit, and TOFT Fine crocheted.

    A little mix of TOFT Chunky knit, and TOFT Fine crocheted.

Short post today but hopefully more tomorrow!

 

Wool House Withdrawal

It feels like things have been moving at breakneck speed around here and that I'm being pulled in a thousand different directions all at once.

Of course it's not all that different from usual but it does make me miss the steadiness and comfort of Wool House from last week. Things were still crazy then too, but there was something very rejuvenating of the spirit about having a consistency to look forward to with the volunteering that I was doing. And the enveloping cocoon of Wool House once you were there - where sounds were muffled and everything was much softer and on a more even keel - served to make things feel more manageable, not insurmountable.

The sun fades on Wool House. Can't wait to see what Wool Week brings in October!

The sun fades on Wool House. Can't wait to see what Wool Week brings in October!

Still, in spite of not much else getting done in my life last week, it was incredibly productive for me in terms of my spinning and my little Sidekick and I got to know each other even better! This is what I had to show for it:

Two 4-oz braids of  SweetGeorgia Yarns Blue-Faced Leicester wool fibre  spun over three days at Wool House and plied on on the fourth.

Two 4-oz braids of SweetGeorgia Yarns Blue-Faced Leicester wool fibre spun over three days at Wool House and plied on on the fourth.

Which last night I finally wound up on my niddy noddy to measure the yardage, and put in a bath of Soak and then finished off with a whack-and-thwack before setting it in our shower to hang to dry overnight. And this morning it was dry:

 Approximately 400 yards of fingering weight in the colourway Riptide.

Approximately 400 yards of fingering weight in the colourway Riptide.

Not having spun with BFL before, I have to say I can't wait to do it again. It was gorgeous! A light, soft and lovely fibre with a long staple length and the Sidekick just kept wanting to spin it finer and finer, so I just let it. It was so wonderful to spin that I can't wait to knit with it! Fingers crossed there's enough as I really want to knit this adorable racerback tank from a TOFT Alpacas pattern (the grey one they show on their website). I've got Rachel on the case though, to see if there's a way to stretch my yardage to what the pattern actually calls for.

Now it's time to catch up on everything else that fell by the wayside last week!