Maeva socks – Ta da

So Ravelry told me just now that I have been knitting these socks since February 9th. Maeva. Sometimes adding your project as soon as you cast on can be a bad thing. It’s taken me how long to knit these socks!? Okay, okay so there was 200g of yarn knitted from my rainbow stripes club. And there was  8 mini skeins knitted into hexipuffs this month (2 puffs per 5g skein), plus 3 puffs from other 4 ply yarn, that’s 19 puffs in February. But still I thought the socks would be quicker.

Today, as I write this, it is L’s birthday. I’m lucky she loves me as I think I’ve sent her two presents on time in the last 12 years. Her socks are currently laid out on the dining room table. I haven’t got socks blockers so I’ve just arranged them into the right shape. I’ll post them as soon as they’re dry. Hopefully L will send me a picture of the socks on her feet. Then I’ll update this post and pop it on the blog.

I really enjoyed knitting these socks, for a few days, in the middle. The first week or two was a series of false starts. I just kept making errors in the cabling, which was going about as slowly as it could.  Things improved when I had to put in a lifeline, running a thread through a row so that I could drop it back without losing stitches in the wrong place. I only used it once though so maybe I had just finally got the hand of the cabling without a cable needle but somehow it went on swimmingly from then. I was really enjoying watching the pattern emerge. It’s a beautiful shape. I also quite liked the zauberball yarn I chose, in the Cranberry colourway. L always used to like purple/lilac the very most but recently announced that these days she’s more inclined to red. Oh. Right. I wasn’t sure that it was in the rules that you were allowed to change your favourite colour in your thirties. This yarn then, with its red and purple twists, seemed perfectly symbolic as a birthday present for a woman happy to accept new truths about herself at her new grand old age. (I only say that as now she’s the same age as me again).

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L has the tiniest feet. I have absolutely no way of checking if these socks are the right size, except the pattern’s guidance, as I know no one with feet that size to try them on. Crossing my fingers.

UPDATED 14/03/2016 – and ready to publish. I posted the socks on Saturday and L received them today and sent me a picture.  Perfect, they fit.

Maeva Socks on feet

When I wrote this post originally on 6 March I thought the socks were finished, but the top of the sock was doing that roll that stocking stitch likes to do.  The reason was that the pattern had the socks another inch or two taller, they were already significantly longer than shop bought socks. I saw the charts for the top and lazily just cursorily glanced over them and assumed they continued in pattern, barring an increase in width and I cast them off. But no, the top of the chart included some rows with a moss stitch rib pattern. I thought that if they were mine I would not be bothered by the roll but that as L wasn’t a knitter I better undo it, it would just bother her. I cut some yarn and undid a couple of rows, picked up the now live stitches and knitted in the rib pattern.  It looked quite nice actually.  I laid out the socks and gave the ribbing a spritz and left it to dry, worked lovely.

The next project is a present too, so there may be some silence on that for a while. Next post will be a blanket update though.

 

 

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Knitting to order, but still with love

There are only so many crafting hours in a lifetime.  Only so many things that can be made, and when you have a young child that feels like even less things. Although, on that particular note, it is at least great fun to have someone small to dress up in home made items, knitted and sewn. Mine is at that awkward stage when she knows if she likes something or not, but pretty much only after I have completed it. I ask her beforehand about the pattern/shape, colour/material, whether it’s knit or sewn I get her opinion.  When faced with the completed item, however, anything can happen.

My mother is a better bet luckily. Mine got fed up of waiting for me to offer to knit her another jumper. I made her last one in 2011. She offered to buy the yarn but could I please knit her another jumper this winter. Okay Ma, you can jump my project queue.

Mum is hypercritical.  She loves handmade things, she admires my work, but she is perfectly happy to notice and point out any errors.  Planning is important.  I went through a number of patterns, trying to find the perfect one.  It had to be chunky, having a jumper thrust itself into my knitting schedule meant it had to be reasonably fast to knit, as fast as sweaters can be anyway. Mum likes cables, but her last jumper had pretty prominent cables, so it had to be slightly different.  The red and grey yarn worked really well with the pattern, neither too overwhelming for the other.

Red Jumper

We went with this one in the end.  A couple of modifications though, the garter stitch edging was a little stiff for my mum’s tastes so we altered it to ribbing.  It helped to have ribbing on the neckline as a nice big snug neck was in order and it’s always nice on the bottom as it pulls the garment in a little. The other amendment was to make it a little longer.  On the model it ends around the top of the hip on the picture of the sleeved version.  The bottom of the hip, I find, is much more flattering on those with a not so flat stomach, more like the length of the red jumper above. So we decided we would make it 2-3 inches longer.

I wanted to get mum some nice squishy superwash merino yarn.  I would have been more than happy to contribute towards the costs, as it is a bit expensive compared to acrylic and mum is not a knitter.  It is always hard to look at the costs for handmade products, you compare it to a retail product and it looks ridiculous.  But for me it’s so nice to knit with a lovely yarn, a good quality one will also wear much better, some cheaper yarns pill so quickly.  So the hours you spend knitting should be as enjoyable as you can afford and the item should last longer than it took to knit it, that’s for sure.  Unfortunately we were quite sure what we wanted and that was a chunky purple yarn that had colour changes and could go in the washing machine and it was not available in anything other than acrylic.  The yarn of choice became clear as James C Brett Marble Chunky.

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Mum liked the modelling part, I’ll have to remember that

I started knitting the jumper in November and went as quickly as possible, I wanted to get it done in time to make some Christmas presents. The only trouble was that it was looking  a bit big, quite wide and definitely quite long.  I finished the back piece and put it up against mum who just laughed and the length and called it a dress. But at that point I still wasn’t sure if it wasn’t just looking a little big as it was a baggier design and it was hard to hold the back up and the ribbing out and get a real idea. So I knit the front too.  Hmm, asking for trouble I think. So I finished the front, clipped it all together onto mum and decided we had definitely made a dress.  Mum would have happily worn the dress but not nearly as often.  So I bit the bullet and decided that I would rip it back and take the extra 2.5 inches out of the top section of the front and back stocking stitch. I knit the two sleeves and then put the jumper aside for after Christmas.

Anyone reading this who has made any crafts at all, must be familiar with this process.  The knitting/sewing/crocheted item has gone wrong, you have time and emotion invested in it and you feel really close to the project.  When it goes wrong and you just can’t face it right now, the item has to go into a timeout.  I like to think of it as thinking about what it has done wrong and it’s allowed to come back out when it’s ready to say sorry. In reality, it is about getting some distance from the problem and not feeling quite so much like it’s doing the work twice.  Or sometimes it is giving the brain a chance to look at whatever the problem is from a different angle. In the end the jumper came back out in the middle of January.  It didn’t take that long either to rip it back a bit and knit them both up again.  Chunky is so beautifully fast and it was quick to sew up too. I think handsewing parts of some items made with fabric has given me an appreciation for handsewing knitted seams.  They go a lot quicker and it is even easier to make them look beautiful.

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The only difference between the back and the front was the neck shaping

I was not looking forward to blocking it.  As it was made of acrylic the blocking process wasn’t entirely necessary, I wasn’t going to steam block it until I was sure it fit mum and I didn’t really think that we would need to do that anyway. But I did want to give it a wash, I always do with items that I’ve knitted as that yarn would have been through my fingers, in and out of bags, near the dogs and I will undoubtedly have dropped the ball of yarn on the floor on numerous occasions.  That jumper is going to need a wash.  It was big and that was going to make it very wet, so I put it off for nearly 3 weeks.  Ridiculous. Then I finally got around to it.  I washed it in the sink and let it drain in the bath for the afternoon, gave  it a few squeezes and then rolled it up in a towel and gave it a good squish around. Lastly I took it and laid it out on the spare bed on top of another, dry towel.  I did not peg it out or pin it to anything to dry in shape, it’s a garment with minimal shaping and the acrylic would make it bound anyway. It took a couple of days to dry as it was still hoarding a fair amount of water, but it got there.

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I kept the garter stitch detail at the wrists as it seemed to work

Mum was pretty happy with it and grateful for the time I spent, which is why she is a good recipient of a handmade item.  Both optimistically and yet negatively she did find it necessary to point out that it was unlikely to get a lot of use this winter. But as the other jumper has lasted 6 years I’m not feeing too guilty about it not getting much use right now, it’s time will come.

 

 

Starting a project that will take months or years

I decided to make the beekeeper’s quilt. It had been sat in my Ravelry library for a long time. I had even made a few hexipuffs. For non-knitters, or even just for non-ravelry/social media junky knitters, these are hexagonal shaped knitted items filled with stuffing. I designated a project bag for my hexipuffs, then I failed to make another one for at least a year and a half.  For some reason the first two are a lot bigger than the more recent ones.  The recent ones have been done with a few different yarns so not sure what is going on there, I’ve clearly tightened up my tension somewhat.

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That’s the larger, older one on the bottom.

Then I bought a yarn advent calendar from Cuddlebums. Each day had a mini skein of yarn and it was in its own little packet, so you opened it just like you’d open a chocolate advent calendar, only it was beautiful hand dyed yarn, so addictive.

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I made socks with mine, although I finished the socks before I finished all the yarn from the calendar, so I thought I’d make hexipuffs with the rest. Good plan I thought. Well yes, except that these mini skeins also proved popular with other people so the lovely lady who runs Cuddlebums thought, why not offer a mini skein yarn club and then people can receive a box of these every month? Woohoo says I and dived right in.

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Enthusiasm is high right now. I’ve been knitting them on the bus, on my break at work, waiting for MB to go to sleep, even at soft play.

imageI did set myself a target of 10 a month and realised that to get a quilt of any decent size that would take 2-3 years. I guess we’ll just have to see how it goes.

Cuddlebums has a lot to answer for though.  Not only have I begun making hexipuffs for a beekeeper’s quilt, I also signed up for a Rainbow Stripe Blanket Club.  It’s aran weight yarn, merino/nylon blend and oh so beautifully soft. I’m a sucker for rainbows at the best of times, but especially in yarn apparently.  The yarn gets sent once a month and this particular club is designed to run for 12 months.

I even chose the big box.  This was largely because the last time I made a blanket I seriously underestimated how much more yarn crocheting takes up than knitting and ended up with a lap blanket, when really I wanted one to snuggle right under.  This one, I was determined, will be plenty big enough.  It is a lot of yarn to knit, while making hexipuffs, and birthday presents and other whatnots. I didn’t think to take a picture of January’s yarn while it was still in the box, or even still in skeins.  It’s all wound into balls now, well 3 of them, the fourth one is already knit up.  Here it is so far

Blanket Club knitting as at 15-2-16

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Blanket Club knitting as at 15-2-16

 

These two balls are left to knit.  The two main issues I’m considering are whether or not I have cast on too many stitches, it may end up a bit narrow and also the time it takes to knit each row.  The plain garter stitch rows were about 20 minutes each. I’m on the second row of that pattern and that is taking an age, hopefully it will speed up when the pattern is set.

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I am excited to see the lovely yarns arrive again next month and I’m hoping to have these ones all knitted up by then. Once again, we shall see.

The chevron cardigan “ta da”

I always start making things thinking they won’t take long. Especially when they’re for my little girl. She’s little after all. But to make a cardigan in DK yarn, with colour changes, involves lots of fidgeting about. That and having a problem remaining faithful to one project at a time means that my craft time gets divided. But today I finished my colourful cardigan.

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Using Cuddlebums rainbow yarn for my colours, merino/silk with sparkle, and a simple merino/acrylic blend  in navy blue to make the cardigan, I enjoyed almost every moment. The pattern is Mim’s Chevrons by Alice Cochran.  It knit up nicely, a simple stitch pattern that was very easy to remember. The beautiful colours got compliments from almost everyone that saw it.

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I bought a light light blue zipper for it and tried to sew it on today. I used a nice long basting stitch on my sewing machine. Just as well because I kept having to unpick it. The knitting kept turning out to be an inch or two longer than the zip. I was disappointed as I liked the light blue but decided to go to Dunelm for another longer zipper, hoping for some nice colours. Nope, not in open ended zips, just white, cream, black, beige and dark blue. I bought a white one. I tried to sew it on and suddenly it seemed that this zip too was too short even though it was actually 2 inches longer than the cardigan before I tried to sew it. When I took it off the machine t was all ruffled I finally realised that I was just stretching out the very flexible handknit as I sewed. I was actually pretty cross I hadn’t realised it before.  I had only sewn a zip onto a handknit once before and I used some light interfacing to help support the fabric.

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This picture really captured the sparkle in the yarn

So I cut two strips of black interfacing and ironed them into place. Then I picked up the light blue zip and tried again.  Basting stitches went in perfectly, same on the other side.  I checked it zipped up equally on both sides, yup.  So I sewed it in properly with a 2.6 stitch length, dark blue on top and light blue in the bobbin.

The last job I had to do was sew in some ribbon at the top, to make sure there was no scratchy zip tape annoying my daughter with the sensitive toddler skin.

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Irritatingly there is lots of room in the cardigan except the sleeves, they seem a little snug.  I don’t think MB likes the snug sleeves, so we’ll see how that one goes.  I have a bad feeling about this.

ETA Oh my lord. So yes, the sleeves are too snug, so they’re going to have to come out and get reknitted without the decreases. But also on closer inspection I did, in fact, completely miss out a whole yellow stripe on one sleeve. Lastly, I forgot to mention in the post that I didn’t have quite enough purple to complete the sleeves and in the last stripe I used a different colour for each chevron. It didn’t look quite as snazzy as I had imagined so this time I think I’m just going to pick a colour. At the moment I’m thinking the red/pink or light blue.