Leafy red jumper – successful knitting, if not style

The Peabody is a gorgeous pattern, with a lovely leafy stitch panel front and down the arms. According to Ravelry, I made this about 2013, which kind of blows my mind because I’m only just getting around to photographing it and posting about it. I love the pattern and am pretty pleased with the making of it. But it doesn’t get a huge amount of wear – in part because it’s quite warm and I rarely need a jumper that warm. In part, because I don’t really wear red often. And in part because it doesn’t look as good on me as it does on the model (surprise, surprise!). Anyone with anything more than an A cup might just find that their chest stretches that front panel out in a strange way.

Never mind – when I discovered that I have had it for something like 7 years already, I was pleasantly surprised because it does get worn a couple times a year (at least) and it is a pretty great feat of knitting. Heaven knows I’ve spent as long on other projects that haven’t lasted so well.

 

First of a new favourite – the Filati wrap shrug

On a holiday in Bavaria last summer, we came across a small wool shop where I picked up a new (to me) knitting magazine, Filati. I then promptly lost it by leaving it at the end of the supermarket checkout as I collected some food for dinner. I was so disappointed, and couldn’t get back to the wool shop to get another, so I went online and ordered a series of the back issues to come to my house in the UK. It wasn’t cheap, but in a holiday mood, I figured it was a souvenir of sorts and worth the spend.

I’m so glad I did – this is hands down my favourite knitting magazine. Each issue has so many items I would love to knit. The main problem is that it’s in German (although there are issues and patterns written in English, the magazines I bought are all German). My German is basic at best, and translating knitting abbreviations is beyond my current abilities. Thankfully, Google Lens does a halfway decent job on my behalf, and with experience and logic, I can get a pretty decent translation done within an hour. Then I have my wonderful colleague and fellow knitter Susanne, who is German and very kindly reviews my translations for me, pointing out where I’ve gone a bit wrong. Huge thanks are owed to Susanne!

So this was the first thing I made – a sort of funky wrap shrug shawl thing. It’s a bit weird, a bit left field, and that’s why I love it. I used a cheap wool found at the Knitting and Stitching Show, which was fine. I’m somewhat regretting not using the recommended wool (although I’m not sure I’ve ever done that before in my life), as I am curious if it would have come out differently. I also should have made the armholes a bit bigger (my upper arms not being a svelte model size) and I realised once done that I missed a final decrease in the lower arms. It has had one outing, as of course the weather warmed up all spring-like as soon as I finished it.

But I’m definitely smitten – the very next thing on the needs was another Filati pattern, a spring/summer lacy vest and the next in the queue is a Filati pattern using the recommended wool. My knitting practice (and German vocabulary) has been somewhat transformed.

Stripey winter poncho

First off, this pattern is a summer pattern, or at least that’s how it seems in the magazine. But I live in London, so winter knits are far more my thing. Also, I rarely knit with the suggested wool, and I wanted to make this but didn’t know quite what to make it with. So I was driven by what I could find at the Knitting and Stitching Show that was the right weight and wouldn’t clash too much with my wardrobe.

Which is how I ended up with a winter poncho – warmer and a bit less drapey than intended. A little kooky and weird. And in not the nor very inspiring colourway of black and grey.

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But despite all that, I do like this. It’s comfy (how could it be otherwise) and more interesting that a straight up v-neck. It took a while (especially having to rip back about 20 cms when I realised I had started miscounting where the all important shaping stitches should be), but it wasn’t hard. So while I don’t love it, it has a place in the winter wardrobe for now.

Snowflake in hell sweater

IMG_20151006_141309375My daughter, like so many children her age, loves Frozen. So I really thought that a sweater with snowflakes on it would be right up her street. I was pleased when she came home, saw the finished product and said “I love this”. This love, however, did not translate into a desire to wear. This little item has stayed firmly in the drawer, despite numerous attempts to get her to wear it. To which she always says “Um, no”. Hence the name – because I have accepted there is a snowflake’s chance in hell that she’ll ever wear this thing. I have since taken it to nursery, to sit in her ‘extra clothes’ box, in the hopes that when she gets all her other clothes wet or covered mud and paint, she might actually wear it. If not, I’ll be once again pinning my hopes on her younger sister.

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This would look better if I blocked it or ironed it, but since no one is going to wear it, what’s the point?

The pattern is the NORD vest (available to buy from Ravelry) and it knit up just fine. I did use this as a reason to learn to properly strand 2 colours of knitting and got pretty good at having wool wrapped in both hands. One hand/colour then knits continental and the other knits English (see this page on Carolyn Knits for a good example and explanation). And I think the finished product is nice – if only someone would wear it!

Our second baby blanket

foldedBlanketFor the birth of my second daughter, I intended to make a second baby blanket*. The idea was to make the Retro Baby Blanket and I purchased some great, hard wearing Red Heart wool (which I raved about for my West Wing shawl) to complete it. They had some fantastic bright neon colours that I thought would work great for a happy and bright baby blanket. But then I felt the Retro blanket might be too much, with all those bright colours and I noticed the designer, Little Doolally on Ravelry, had all kinds of nifty blankets to choose from. So we ended up with the Winifred Baby Blanket.

picotEdgeBlanketAnd what can I say except I absolutely love it? The wool is great, I love the colours, the pattern was easy but creates a beautiful pattern (and the ‘wrong’ side is just as cool as the right side, although different). It even ends with a lovely picot border. My only complaint is that weaving in all those ends was BORING. I did try a technique to crochet them into the start of the next row, which was mildly successful although tended to create some lumpy ends. But that’s it. It’s awesome.

drapedBlanket* Our first daughter got the first baby blanket, which is lovely but not as cool as this one. Sorry honey!

The West Wing shawl

drapedI loved the pattern on the Oslo shawl and the challenge that the colourwork seemed to pose. Only when I started did I realise that that beautiful patterned colours are exceedingly easy to create. All the better, to be honest, as I only learned the easy way to carry colours towards the end of the project – mostly I was dropping one colour and picking up another every few stitches when required, which was time consuming. I was also wrapping strands, to avoid gaps, without realising that it was unnecessary if I was carrying the colours across the back of the work (stranding) instead of using discrete bobbins of colour (intarsia). Just goes to show there is still room to learn, even if you’ve been knitting for over a decade.

foldedThe wool is from Red Heart, a brand I hadn’t heard of until the last Knitting and Stitching Show at Alexandra Palace. LoveKnitting.com had a big display and a special deal on Red Heart wool, so I stocked up for several projects. It’s lovely, easy stuff. Not the luxe and difficult to care for kind of lovely. Just the workhorse, sturdy but soft, affordable everyday kind of lovely – which I actually prefer in most cases.

I decided I wanted a bigger shawl, something that would properly cover my shoulders and upper back. So after consulting with the designer (who was lovely and helpful in her responses), I added 2 additional repeats of the main pattern. I calculated that this wouldn’t cause major problems for the border pattern and it didn’t. But I neglected to review and revise one section, meaning one part of the end pattern isn’t quite right on the increases around the point. It’s certainly something I could have fixed. But it’s also something I can live with.

laidOutSo why the West Wing shawl? This project was started when I went on maternity leave and finished in the weeks just following the birth of my second daughter. I had several weeks of maternity leave prior to her birth, which I used wisely by knitting and binge watching The West Wing. I miss that program – but at least I have a nice shawl to keep me warm.

Lonely possum cardigan

possumCardiKids1This is the second children’s cardigan I’ve made from the lovely possum wool I got in New Zealand. The first, when my daughter was about 18 months old, was worn often. Perhaps because she wasn’t yet choosing her own clothes.

But now that she gets quite a bit of say in what she wears, she regularly eschews the knitted cardigans in favour of fleeces. So this cardigan, finished about 7 or 8 months ago, has never been worn.

possumCardiKids2The pattern is from a Sirdar booklet (the same one containing the train vest) and it hasn’t been blocked properly, so the button band is a bit wonky and the hem a bit uneven. Could this be why she won’t wear it? Having seen some of the outfits she chooses for herself, I doubt she’s rejecting it on aesthetic grounds.

Never mind – maybe her younger sister will appreciate the vintage buttons and the smocking effect?

(Apologies for the atrocious colour in the photos – I really struggled to get the detail of the cardigan to show up)

Baby Earhart?


redAviatorHat

Behold the Aviatrix hat, knit for my newborn daughter. This was made with the same wool used to recreate the Hat that will last many years  – that didn’t last so long after all. Lesson learned, and it was recreated in a machine washable wool, and this companion hat created from what was left over.

The new baby hasn’t worn it yet as, although I made the newborn size, it was far too big for her head. Not to worry, as it’s a stretchy pattern and should still fit in 4 or 5 months when the weather turns cold again.

This is a beautiful hat, easy to knit and a good introduction to the power of short rows for shaping. Highly recommended!

The little knitted vest that could…

TrainVestFrontMy daughter, like most toddlers I expect, loves trains. We’re lucky enough to live near a local commuter train line, so if we’re ever bored on the weekend, we can just take her to watch the trains come and go.

TrainVestBackSo this pattern was a must. It’s from Sirdar’s Snuggly Little Kinfolk booklet, although I used a Debbie Bliss Cashmerino (previously used on the Wurm hat) instead of Sirdar’s suggested yarn. I also had to edit the pattern, as it simply repeated the same pattern on front and back (with a lead car on both sides). I preferred to have a train of 6 cars total, running round one side of the vest (rather than two disjointed trains) – so I moved the pattern to the other side of the back piece, repeated the pattern for the standard car, and knit the connector and track so it would join to the front.

It’s still (just) summer at the time of completion (August), so it hasn’t been worn yet. I’m just hoping she’s still into trains when the weather gets cold enough to warrant the first outing.

Stripey New Zealand cardigan that should have been a jumper

frontViewSince I always like to get a sewing or knitting related souvenir when travelling, I dragged my husband and in-laws to a number of knitting stores when we visited New Zealand in 2011. For a place so full of sheep, I found it more difficult that I would have expected to find places to buy wool.

But in the lovely Art Deco town of Napier, I struck gold twice, ending up with Opossum wool (used to make this cardigan for the baby) and some lovely Aran wool from NZ sheep. The idea was to make a nice, cosy stripey jumper.

However, as often happens when buying materials without a specific pattern in mind, I couldn’t quite find a pattern that matched my vision and the amount of available wool. I did quite like the Caramel pattern on Ravelry and thought it would work well.

The pattern is nicely drafted, with some small touches (like purls at the ‘side seams’ even though it’s knit as one big piece) that make it subtly beautiful. Overall, it is a bit too wide for me at the neck. I have this problem in sewing too and just need to remember to adjust. Since most patterns are based on bust size, and everything gets larger as the pattern is graded up, I tend to get things that fit the bust but are too wide for my shoulders. Anyways, the biggest problem was not with the pattern but the fact I actually didn’t have enough wool. And thus, it’s a short-sleeved cardigan, which isn’t at all what I wanted.

sideViewSo although this has been done for many months, it’s had few trips out of the closet. It’s not quite what I wanted and, let’s be honest, how often is the weather right for a warm woolly but short-sleeved cardigan? On top of that, without any buttons (and as someone who doesn’t own scarf pins), it hung open and wasn’t flattering.

I have at least fixed the last problem with the purchase of some kilt pins and I do like it better draped this way. (I also tried a chopstick one day, which worked rather well, except when it was poking me awkwardly as I reached for things). Worn with a long sleeve t-shirt, it works ok. I don’t love it, but I don’t hate it enough to unpick it and try again. So it goes…