Friday, August 31, 2007

Bags of Yarn

Work continues on the Kauni jumper. I have started the steeks. I put the first stitch of the round on a safety pin and cast on one edge stitch, eight steek stitches and one more edge stitch (ten in total). I'm keeping both edge stitches in the background colour and working the remaining eight steek stitches in a chequerboard pattern (less chance of the whole lot coming undone when the cutting happens.) No pictures of that yet but there will be.

I promised to make my "not-a-Barbie" sister-in-law a bag for some posh do she's going to next month. We finally settled on "Clyde" by Sarah Hatton from Rowan #38. There is one of those "I'm a fashion photographer, I don't do clear" pictures here. Since you won't be able to see that, let me just tell you that it is a small, felted bag with a ribbon for a handle, which goes through a "button hole" in the bag to fasten it. The yarn suggested is Rowan Yorkshire Tweed Aran, which has, of course, been discontinued. Substitute suggestion is Rowan Scottish Tweed, which doesn't have the right colour. I searched through the stash - I just need one skein of 100% non-superwash wool in a chocolate brown. With all the yarn that is in my house (just about enough to start my own yarn shop, if you must know) you wouldn't think that was a "big ask". Well, it was. I've got the right colour, wrong composition. I've the right composition, wrong colour. There was only one thing for it - off to the yarn shop.

You wouldn't believe that they didn't have any suitable yarn either, would you. Nicky-in-the-shop even offered me some of her own stash (but she didn't have the right colour either). I'm starting to tear my hair out at this stage. When I say "next month" I actually mean "next week" (which is, after all, next month), so time is of the essence.

Google was my friend and I found a stockist of Cascade 220 in the UK. A new-to-me yarn shop, first4yarns. I honestly cannot praise them highly enough.

I telephoned yesterday morning with a couple of queries about colours and yarn requirements. Very nice lady, very helpful, very pleasant. She said it was easier to order on-line, which I duly did. This was at 10am. I went off to work. . She sent me an email at 1pm (which I didn't get because I was at work) saying the order was packed but there had been a problem with my credit card and would I phone, or email so she could send it that afternoon. At 2.15 she telephoned and got 'im indoors, who was able to sort out the problem. When I got home I replied to her email to thank her for her diligence. To which she responded, in part, "we are always worried when Husbands answer the phone as we know often wool stashing is top secret". What a hoot! (True though, obviously they understand their target audience.)

The postman came up trumps and I was rewarded with this little lot:

Two skeins chocolate brown Cascade 220 for the "Clyde" bag.

Two skeins lime green Cascade for the body of another bag.

Pattern for the Noni "Two Versions of Two Felted Evening Bags", aforementioned lime green yarn and one skein fuchsia for the flowers round the top.

Sorry about the dark picture, the previous one of the lime green yarn gives a much better impression of the vibrant colour.

Don't forget to check out first4yarns - they were brilliant.

I know it's Saturday, though I did start writing this post yesterday and then had all kinds of problems with uploading the pics (don't get me started). It's early here and I haven't been out to take a picture of the back field but it's still there.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Ready for the Steek (eek!)

I am almost up to the point where I need to add on the stitches for the armhole steeks on the Kauni jumper. I'm not quite sure how many stitches to add on - not so many that I use up lots of yarn and have bulky facings to fold back at the end; not so few that the whole thing unravels as soon as look at it. Six? Eight? or an odd number?

I suppose I'd better read about it for a while before I actually do anything.

Wendy Johnson tells us something about the Norwegian steek in Knitty here (but the Norwegians, hardy people that they are, do not seem to be adding any stitches for the steek. I don't fancy that idea.) There is more about steeks here, where she uses 10 extra stitches to allow room for the cutting. Then there is Eunny Jang and I think this is the best explanation of steeks, ever. She says, "Unreinforced and sewn steeks are typically worked with an even number of bridge stitches and cut between the center two stitches, while crocheted steeks are typically worked with an odd number of bridge stitches and cut through the center stitch." I'm thinking unreinforced, because I'm using a very "sticky" (technical term) wool, so I'd need to add on an even number of stitches (quite how many I'm not sure).

There were meant to be pictures here but Blogger (new, improved) is not playing and I am fed up with it.

The Kauni jumper is looking good, although I fear I may have to join the yarn again because we are running into two balls of orange, in the same place at the same time. Bah, humbug.

Latest update! Blogger has relented.

Here is progress on the Scroll-y jumper:

and, even though I know it is now Wednesday (and possibly even Thursday in some far-flung corners of the world), this is the back field as it was on Saturday:

Oh, and another thought: if you are on Ravelry would you please leave a comment and tell me your user name? I know there are lots of people on there who I would love to look at but I find the search facility to be a bit specific. (It will find "theyarnharlot" but not "yarn harlot" or "harlot" or "Stephanie McPhee" or "Stephanie Pearl McPhee".)

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Houston, we have a problem.

This is the problem.

Kauni yarn both the same

We have two balls of yarn that are at the same point in the colour sequence.

This is the reason why:

 This is why

Somebody, in their wisdom, has decided that it is perfectly acceptable to "splice" (after a fashion) one colour to another totally unrelated colour. Obviously this will not do.

I fished about amongst the other balls of yarn and found a place where the yellowish/greenish yarn came up.

I am going to splice these two yarns together:

Two yarns to be spliced

First, unravel the plies for about six inches:

Plies unravelled

Then cut or break off one of the plies:

Plies broken off

Wet your palms, with spit (or water, if you are particularly fastidious). Overlap the two yarns in your palm and rub your hands together vigorously. You will be twisting the yarns together as you do this. You need to rub quite hard, so that you create some heat. The combination of the wetness, the agitation and the heat will felt the two yarn ends together and should make an almost invisible join:

Completed join

I really don't like the feel of the soggy (technical term) yarn passing through my fingers, so I usually do this and leave it to dry for ten minutes or so. There's really no need to do this but I just prefer it.

Eye candy:

Kauni progress

This is what we have so far. It's looking lovely (though I so say so myself!)

Here's a close-up of the scrolls:

Close-up of scrolls

Nice, eh?

Thursday, August 16, 2007

It came.

It came! It came! My invitation to Ravelry. My user name is knittheknits (surprise, surprise), though there's not a great deal there at the moment.

It's like a big knitters' party happening all day and all night. I've been racketting (technical term) around, looking at everything. There is so much there that I am quite overwhelmed. I've managed to get some of my books on there (after a little bit of fiddling about with Library Thing); I've put on a couple of projects but I'm not really very computer savvy (and I've got a very slow, almost treacle-like connection), so it's not as fast as it might be.

However, it's great fun, though I do think it might cut down on the actual knitting time. That's unless I can learn to operate the keyboard with my feet (like Wendy doesn't).

The Kauni jumper is just addictive - I want so much to see how the colours are coming out that I knit and knit and don't bother going to bed. I actually woke up at 6.30am this morning (and let me tell you, I am so not a morning person) wanting to leap out of bed and knit. I know, sad, isn't it?

Ava asked if the yarn had a name. I believe it is Kauni Effektgarn, in the EQ (rainbow) colourway. It's a "fingering/4 ply" weight yarn . 100% wool. The recommended needle size is 3mm (the loose woman over here is using 2.75mm). 100g is about 400m (though the balls I got are 150g each).

I suppose you want some eye candy? Here you go:

The welt and the diagonal stripes and almost one repeat of the pattern.

The private side:

Neat, or what?

Close up of progress so far:

The basic idea of this jumper is that you begin the pattern with two balls of yarn (much like fair isle) but because you start at different points in the colour sequence, there never comes a point where the colours from the two balls coincide. This is the theory. However, you do need to keep your eye on things. There was a point where I could see that within a very short space of time I was going to have a dark blue coming from both balls. So, since it is my knitting and I am the boss, I snipped the green yarn, joined on another ball (also where the yarn was green) and carried merrily on. So far, the two balls show no sign of doing the same thing again but my hawk-like eye is on it.

I used a spit-splice to join this yarn. It's quite "hairy" (technical term), so the spit splice seems to be the perfect method. I sometimes don't bother with getting rid of half the plies - I just spit and then splice. (Do I hear the whoop, whoop, whoop of the Knitting Police racing up behind me?)

Oh, and Lixie? You know when you said you didn't think it could get any better because cake came in the package with the yarn? Well it can. Astrid tells me the cake is fat free.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Done, done, done

It's amazing how the arrival of new yarn is a spur to finishing with the old yarn.

The Anne Cardigan (aka "The Cardigan from Hell") was very nearly finished when the Kauni yarn arrived. It's at just this point in the proceedings (ie so very nearly finished you can almost touch the line) that I tend to start with displacement activities. I'll maybe read about the best way of blocking various fibres (good article here, if you want to know, or there is always the ever-reliable Knitty); or knit a quick little bag; or decide to sort out my knitting books; or go stash diving in preparation for the next big thing. No need for any of that this time. I simply left the Kauni yarn on the table where I could see it and the last little bit of "Anne" fairly flew off the needles.

Here is the loathsome thing, finally finished:

I blocked it by wetting a cloth (handkerchief of 'im indoors), placing it carefully over the knitting and holding a hottish (technical term) iron on the cloth. I didn't press the knitting; I didn't move the iron around; I just placed it over the cloth with almost no pressure. This allows the steam to permeate the fabric and even out the stitches.

Although twelve buttons came in the kit, the recipient decided she would rather have just one button a the top. The buttons provided were, in my opinion, just too small for this. I made an executive decision - I bought another button:

I think it's quite a good match.

It's now in the box, ready to be sent off and may I never, ever, have the misfortune to knit another pattern by this "designer". The yarn is beautiful, though.

This left me with a clear run at the Kauni jumper. (It's this one here, if you remember.)

I did a swatch (bet you never thought you'd read that here); I did a few calculations and I'm off.

Of course, I'm not actually following the pattern as written. If you think I'm doing stranded fair isle work on the private side of the work, then you must be a new reader. I'm using Wendy's Fearless Fair Isle pattern (sort of) but really, I'm just winging it.

I found a very neat trick to stop the corrugated rib flipping up (as it is wont to do). That seems to be working well:

The cast on is slightly wobbly (technical term) but I think that's a function of the stitch pattern and not a fault on the part of the knitter.

Here's the private side (because, as you know, the private side should be just as tidy as the public side):

I'm just about to move on to the body - first the diagonal stripes and then the scroll-y bit (technical term).

It really is a case of "just one more row".

Saturday, August 11, 2007


Some would say that was a good thing...

I ordered the Kauni yarn to make a jumper for 'im indoors. The yarn was shipped from Astrid's Dutch Obsessions on Monday and arrived here in the rural backwater this morning (Saturday). Strange to say, I just knew it was going to arrive today. I was awake at six thirty in breathless anticipation.

You know how sometimes, when you are waiting for something to happen; willing the time to pass quickly; when you are so looking forward to something and then when it does come it's a bit of a let down? Not so here, not so at all, not by a long chalk.

It is the most glorious, most beautiful, most delightful thing I have ever seen.

This is my favourite:

but they are all wonderful.

I was pleased to see that I'd had the foresight to order five balls (that's 750g) because I honestly thought I'd only ordered four. It's not that 'im indoors is the Michelin Man (though he is not quite so svelte as he once was) but rather that I have an irrational fear of running out of yarn. I don't think that's going to be the case here.

The yarn is described as "Shetland-type" and I would say this description is very accurate - it feels "sticky" (technical term) and so I have no doubt that a steek would work well. If you want the complete skinny on steeks, look no further than Eunny Jang, who goes into it in what some might consider a slightly obsessive way. (Not that I think that, not at all.)

Also included in the package was a piece of cake:

Let's hope that's going to be an omen.

Back Field?

It's still there.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

I've succumbed

I'm not on a yarn diet; I'm not on a yarn diet; I'm not on a yarn diet. So I can't have broken my promise, can I.?

It's not even my fault. It's all to do with 'im indoors. He wants a jumper (or possibly a cardie). Impossible to get him to tell me quite what he wants. He knows what he doesn't want, which is a start, I suppose. I know what I want too. It's got to be interesting; it's got to be knitted in the round (because, as you all know, I don't do sewing); it's not going to have cables and it's not going to be white (or black); it's not going to be fuzzy (technical term); it's going to be some sort of natural fibre (though not necessarily wool). Hmm, looks like I know what I don't want, too.

I started looking for patterns. Yes, I know, I could just take out The Sweater Workshop and design one myself but I needed to have a picture of the finished thing so 'im indoors could take a gander.

I found the Mosaic Triangles at Magknits. He seemed to quite like this one. Debbie Bliss Cathay, perhaps? Twenty two balls at £3.25 the ball? £71.50/$146. I don't think so, somehow. I showed the Annie Modesitt Corset I knitted in this same yarn and he didn't like the drape of it. He thought it might "stretch down to my knees". Well, we wouldn't want that, would we?

Then I came across the Kauni Cardigan on Stephanie's blog (and just about everywhere else I turned in cyberspace - there's a KAL (now closed to new members); there are pictures here and many other places too.)

It's a lovely thing. It ticked all the boxes. All I needed to do was get the yarn.

I ordered it from here. Meanwhile, there is another pattern here. This, I think, is the one I'm going to go for.

Sorry about the lack of pictures in all that. I haven't got the yarn yet. (I don't even know if Astrid has the yarn yet.) Rest assured there will be pictures as soon as I get my mitts on it.

The Anne Cardigan? Don't get me started. The "pattern" (such as it is) is just horrible. Down the sleeve I go. Change to smaller needles. Work one inch in moss stitch. Fairly straightforward? I just did what the pattern said. I didn't decrease any stitches before the cuff. Even though I know this is the usual thing. What was I thinking?

This is the dire result:

See how it's all splayed out and floppy (technical term)?

I've ripped it out. I've decreased an inch worth of stitches. I've re-knitted it. There is no picture of the new, improved cuff because I have hidden the thing under a cushion so it doesn't get in my eye line.

Back Field Picture - posted on the right day for once:

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Displacement Activities

You know when you are trying to revise for your exams but you don't really want to, so you spend an inordinate amount of time tidying your desk? This is what I have been doing for the last two days.

You all know far too much about how fearful the "Anne Cardigan" is that I don't need to tell you again. I just can't bear it.

I have had this:

delightful pink silk yarn in the stash since Jackie made me go to the back end of nowhere to a yarn shop that had a sale. (I believe it was Droitwich - I had to do a search on my own blog to find that out - when does being slightly vague turn into a problem?)

Wondering and wondering what to do with it - I thought a bag, I thought a hat, I thought a bag again.

This is a bag that was in Emma King's "25 Bags to Knit".

Naturally enough, I am not using the yarn called for. Nor am I getting the gauge called for. Nor using the right needles (neither the ones called for, nor the ones suggested on the yarn label.)

I decided that this yarn was the right yarn for the project and then I realised that I wanted the fabric to be fairly stiff (technical term) and not floppy (another technical term), so I used very skinny (that would be another technical term) needles and made something that would stop a speeding bullet. I had to cast on a different number of stitches too - talk about knitting on the high wire.

Here she is part-way through:

Here's a close-up of the beads:

These are pebble beads from Mill Hill (who seem to be the only people making beads in the world. I'm sure that can't be true. Mill Hill are the only people that I've heard of, that must be it.)

Here's the finished item:

If I were a man, I'd be asking "What's it for?"