Two’s company

I’m sitting in the garden. It looks like it’s going to rain any minute, but actually it’s quite nice. The birds are singing, and aside from that it’s quiet and fresh. I’ve just made tomorrow night’s dinner and there’s a plum clafoutis in the oven too. Actually, I tasted half a plum while I was prepping it, and it was completely tasteless, so we’ll see. Might sound like an episode of the good life, but we’re not there yet.

I’m still in sock and gardening mode at the moment. (Although I’m also making a pink elephant.) After the woolly-wholesomeness of my last socks, I fancied knitting socks in a really bright colour. So I bought some Cascade Heritage yarn which seems to get good reviews – and actually, is quite cheap for the amount you get in a skein.

I started the stripy one first. Then, we went to see friends (finally!) and I thought it would be good to take something easy and mindless with me, so I prepped the second sock. Sometimes I like knitting while I’m talking. In the end it was such a joy to see them, and to sit in their beautiful garden, I didn’t knit much. But I carried on with the simpler sock when I got back. I was intending to make a corresponding pair for each, but now I’m not so sure…

Originally, I was going to reverse the stripes on the stripy one. Thinner at the top, wider apart at the bottom. But now I’m thinking I could just make another 2 socks using the same yarn in any way I fancy and mix and match them. If they all use the same colours, who’s to say they’re not a pair? Plus, I’ll only wear them at home anyway, so does it matter? Not really. So I’m using these as ‘trying it out’ socks and knitting whatever I feel like. I’ve got a hunch I’d prefer this yarn on a smaller needle, actually. We’ll see about that.

Last summer I made some bunnies for the children of friends abroad. I have no idea when I’ll get to see them and hand the bunnies over. The kids’ll probably be fully grown at this rate. But a few weeks ago I decided I wanted to reknit their clothes. Just suddenly decided I didn’t like them. I was going to knit them in the Krea Deluxe cotton I bought – but it’s so splitty! The colours are absolutely beautiful, and it’s organic cotton yarn, but it really does split and if you’re knitting on small gauge needles you’re forever picking up the single strand of thread that gets left behind. So I put the clothes on pause. Then inexplicably decided to knit a pink elephant with the yarn instead.

How this is different to knitting clothes, I haven’t worked out. But the beauty of a hobby is the option to abandon all logic and/or quality control when you feel like it and just get on with things.

This project bag is lovely – a xmas gift from the friend I mentioned earlier.

If you’re the sort of person who might make the elephant pattern using the Krea Deluxe yarn and wonder if the yarn is strong enough to take the weight of curling up the trunk, the answer is no. It took 5 attempts at sewing that up before it did what it was supposed to. Krea didn’t cut it, nor did some random (what I thought was strong) yarn I found in the drawer. Eventually I used a bright red yarn – maybe a cotton glace? Luckily it’s true – you can’t see the thread you use to sew up mattress stitch. It does get buried in the stitches themselves. And now the head is done, she’s quite nice. I’m making an elephant with shoes on. I haven’t made an animal with shoes in ages. We’ll see from the finished article if there was a reason for that I’ve forgotten.

Unwinding

Rewind / unwind / unpick / unravel / frog / begin again (Michael Finnegan). Just to give you a heads up, from the way things are going, these are the future titles of the next few blog posts. I’m just about to frog the sock again. Which is a shame actually, but also doesn’t matter.

After my last post I decided to start again, in grey. This time the cuff took forever because I did 2×2 twisted rib stitch, which is tighter than regular rib and so barely stretched across the needles. I like twisted rib stitch, but is it worth the hassle of trying to squeeze your way through every stitch? Maybe not for a sock. Weirdly, it stays stretched out once you’ve knit it, or it does for me. When I’ve done regular 2×2 rib it sort of sucks itself in and only stretches when you wear it. Twisted rib seems to stay stretched out. Wait – this photo will show you what I mean, twisted rib on the left, regular rib on the right.

Just me, or the same for everyone? Or actually, is it just this yearn? Anyway, once I got past the cuff I thought I’d make life easy and do some plain knitting. And then I thought maybe I should do some colour work after all. I know I said I don’t really like knitting colourwork, but everyone else’s socks on Instagram look really great – and… bleurgh. There you go.

This is an awful photo but I actually really like the sharpness of colour changes in knitting. I don’t think people make much use of it – often people try and soften the edges or try and create organic shapes in colourwork, but there’s something really nice about embracing the fact that slabs of colour just look good. So I went with colour blocks of 4 stitches. This is good because, 1) counting to 4 is easy to remember 2) carrying the other colour over 4 stitches is fine, you don’t need to do any weird ‘catching the float‘ techniques, which I know I’ll forget to do and then risk a flappy thread that’ll catch and break.

Somehow, I did pretty well with this. Usually, because I’m a tight knitter, the fabric gets really pinched when I knit in more than one colour. No matter how hard I try to keep the floats loose. But I think I did ok this time. Or maybe not.

I switched back to grey, measured it against the well fitting stripy sock and decided it was time to do the heel. I did an ok job with the heel itself, and for me, a decent job of picking up the stitches to get the whole sock back on the needle.

But here’s the thing. It just doesn’t fit well. I pulled it on to check the heel, and the colourwork section is just too tight. I can get it on alrightish, but it’s a slight squeeze every time. I would suggest if you’re (I’m) going to do this, and you don’t want to go up a needle size – which is what a lot of people do with colourwork, but I don’t want to do – then you’ll just have to add more stitches to account for the tightness of the floats. The yarn also shrinks ever so slightly in the wash too – even though it is listed machine washable at 30 degrees. If I did finish the sock it wouldn’t take long before I couldn’t wear it at all. So, I’ll unravel it and try again.

Who says knitting isn’t a cheap hobby? I’ve been using these same balls of yarn for entertainment for literally weeks. Maybe one day I’ll even get a functioning pair of socks out of them too.

I’m assuming someone’s written extensively about the fact you need to account for all this if you’re knitting colourwork socks, but never mind. Experience is a great teacher, as they say (when they’re being polite about the fact you’ve just screwed something up needlessly).

In more productive news, I knitted the bear a blue t-shirt. I think it’s better. Same as the rabbit in the previous post – which, it turns out, is loved.

So that’s where we’re at this week. A few steps forward in knowledge, and a lot of rows back in knitting.

Unravelling

Truth be told, I was a bit grumpy last time I wrote. Not sure why. I’m much happier right now though, because I’ve finally managed to dig out a bramble from the garden. It took about 30 minutes kneeling in the wet mud, with my head in a flowering currant (or indeed ribes sanguineum), but I finally did it. It’s been bugging me since we moved in (3 years ago). It’s hard to get to, and the… stems/trunks/stalks (?) that come off the bramble are the kind of thickness you can only imagine in fairytales. I’ve never seen anything like it. But as the currant bushes haven’t come into leaf let I could finally get to the heart of the bramble. It was a beast. I thought I might have to ask for help digging it up, but I got there in the end. This is in no way interesting to anyone but me, but honestly, I am very pleased with myself.

In other news, I made a quick-ish rabbit for someone at work. Originally I’d planned to dress her in the dungarees I made for the bear (I’m not convinced the bear is happy with their clothes), but then I just sort of knew that the person who would receive the bunny would prefer it with a tail – and I’d sewn up the back of the bear’s dungarees and there’s no way to unpick it. So I made a new pair of dungarees, but without the pocket this time. Actually, they’re quite cute pocketless, I think. The white bunny is there for scale – both made with the same pattern, but the white bunny is in worsted weight yarn.

Here’s an artless shot of the bunny’s tail as proof. I posted her to the recipient on Monday, and by Friday, I’d given her up as lost. Which was awkward. Do you tell someone you’ve made them something and it’s got lost in the post? If they weren’t expecting to get it, would you just be making a scene? I wasn’t too sure. But then on Friday afternoon, I got a nice message to say thank you. I think the bunny had just taken the long route across London.

Here’s a sort of secret. My boss knows, not everyone else does. If I’m in a long (up to an hour +) meeting which is mostly listening, I sometimes knit. If I don’t knit, I end up getting instant messages about work which I feel obliged to answer, and then I check my email and before long I’m responding to a bunch of work related questions and then I might as well not be in the meeting at all. Knitting keeps me focussed and listening to what people are saying. I’m not alone in this, I’ve heard other people say it helps them to focus too – just no one I work with, as far as I know. Anyway. I unravelled one sock in one meeting, and this sock in another:

It got to the point where it was okay, just not…that great. It’s not like I desperately need a knitted sock I don’t like much, so I unravelled it and started again. I thought maybe solid blocks of these colours would work better?

The colours do work better like this – but then I was working on the heel yesterday morning and decided I didn’t love this either so I unpicked this too. I have no idea what I’m looking for in this sock, but clearly none of the above. I’ll work it out. I did actually find someone who makes beautiful socks on Instagram. Amazing colours, beautiful photos. Maybe I will have to go back to learning colourwork after all? I love how solid her colours are. Less about texture, really. Although this is the wrong yarn for trying that kind of thing. Anyway. I’m still attempting to knit socks, basically. What are you up to?

Cables and stripes and bears, oh my!

There’s probably a sock pattern for every type of knitter. Assuming you’re ok with knitting in a circle, of course. Plain socks, colourwork socks, cabled socks and textured socks. Delicate lacy socks and chunky socks. Main problem, I think, is working out what kind of knitter you are. I’m still not sure. To be honest, I’m not even that sure I’m a knitter – but I have the needles, the yarn and I like making things, so for now, knitting it is.

I think when I started writing this blog I assumed I’d find a ‘craft’ that totally fit me. Something I’d stick with and get good at. I’m not sure I’ve done that – knitting ended up as a default, because its super easy to make *something*. It’s also pick up and put downable without too much fuss. You don’t need to get a sewing machine out or open a cupboard. You can leave it lying about and pick it up when you feel like it. (And usually it is lying about. We had a sock on the kitchen table for weeks. My partner is very gracious about eating his dinner with a sock staring him in the face, while I’m in the process of knitting another one). Knitting’s also pretty easy to take with you if you’re travelling – although not as good as tatting, which is much smaller.

Anyway, that’s long winded way of saying I’m making another pair of socks. (And no, I haven’t been travelling.)

I decided I should see if I liked knitting cabled socks. I used the Winwick Mum pattern, left over yarn from my first pair of socks, and the measurements from the second sock of the first pair. The answer? I don’t mind knitting cabled socks, but I am terrible at counting in the round. I don’t know why I’m so bad at it, (just put a marker in and make a note as you go) but for some reason I lost count, all the time. I also decided I don’t like this colour. Or I don’t like so much of this colour in one go. So I unravelled it and started again. And I bought some grey yarn.

Next I made a brand new cuff (groan) and did about 3 repeats of cable pattern in grey. That was ok. I’m still bad at counting but the cable pattern just didn’t show up in the grey yarn – too small a cable and too woolly. So I unpicked that – but not before totally forgetting to take a photo.

(The colour on these photos is terrible, sorry about that). So one of the other things I wanted to try was ribbed socks. I wanted to see if it added interest to knitting plain socks or just ended up being annoying. Jury’s out actually. It’s ok – but then this sock isn’t whizzing along at the speed of the last pair, so maybe it is a bit disruptive? It’s knit 3, purl 1. I also had a bit of a google to see how I could make the cuff neater. My knit 2 purl 2 ribbing never looks that neat, so I swapped it out for twisted rib stitch. That looks incredibly neat – especially if you do a good job of it, which I haven’t really. But try it. It’s easy to do and looks really nice. Downside is that I had to do it all on DPNs, as I couldn’t get it to stretch across the circulars. (I got there eventually, as you can see, but how do people have the patience to knit whole socks on DPNs?)

Technically speaking, the body of the sock so far is 2 rows of each colour. That’s pretty good as you can carry the colour as you go, so not too many ends to sew in. I say ‘technically speaking’ because practically speaking you can see at least one row of orange which is deeper than the others. If I’m honest, there are 2, but the photo is deceptive. I did tell you I couldn’t count. Also, I’m not in love with the grey and orange if I’m honest, but I’m ignoring that for now. I’ll switch to yellow at some point soon. The three balls look nice together, but just less good when knitted up.

The only other thing to try sock wise, was colour work. But I think I’ve finally got to the point where I understand myself well enough to know that it would drive me a bit nuts. I hate unruly things you have to keep untangling, and colourwork falls into this camp. I do it occasionally – some Little Cotton Rabbits clothing – but on the whole, I probably don’t find it that enjoyable. And I guess you don’t have to do hobbies you don’t find that enjoyable, right? Doesn’t stop me looking at everyone else’s work with envious eyes. Maybe I just need to try harder.

So I’ll stick with the ribbed socks, and probably make cabled socks another time, in another yarn. In the meantime I’ve been wearing the socks I have knitted and I love them. Especially the last pair. I can’t believe I made them.

I also made a small bear! I wasn’t really expecting small bear to be this small. She’s knitted out of yarn I’ve had for years, which just seemed to be a good colour for a bear. I used the head pattern from the Little Cotton Rabbits mini animals and the body from the 7″ pattern. What you can see above, left to right is – regular sized bear in small yarn, in the small size dungarees, a small bear in small yarn and small dungarees, and a small bunny in worsted yarn and small dungarees. I can’t believe how chunky the bunny is! I love her none the less. Small bear became a slight issue in that I was worried I didn’t have the yarn to make clothes that would fit, but Krea Deluxe cotton on 2.5 needles worked out ok in the end. I’m still in 2 minds about those colours, but they’re the ones I had. The colours of the Krea Deluxe cotton range are really lovely though. Even if the cotton is a bit splitty at times.

And that’s all for now. I need to go because I’m making a pie, and apparently we’re supposed to be eating soon. The pie is… not yet pie shaped. It’s in a casserole dish, waiting to be assembled. Onwards.

Hope you’re doing ok.

Last of the batch knitting

When lockdown started, I inexplicably decided to knit a batch of animals. I think it was because I had a few to gift, and it seemed like a good idea? And I really like having a knitting project on the go, so I don’t need to think ‘what should I make next?’ when I feel in the mood to make something.

And then Julie released the patterns for smaller animals too… so I think since lockdown started I’ve made and clothed 2 big rabbits, 3 small rabbits and one fox. Also one set of clothes for a bunny I had already made, one extra dress that doesn’t suit anyone, and one extra pair of dungarees for the bear. Oh, and another dress for the smallest of the bunnies, as I prefer the dresses with arms – so I knitted a completely new dress when the pattern was released as I made a hash of unpicking the one I’d already knit. And one basket, 4 carrots, 2 doughnuts and 3 bags. Oh. And 2 small pocket bunnies for the pockets of the larger ones. Actually. That’s quite a lot.

This is some of them. I think this photo was taken before I made the bags. And before I made the fox.

I made a spare grey body, arms and legs when I made the other 2 bunnies, but didn’t give it a head. I wasn’t sure what it should be, but I had half a plan for a silver fox. Then I got stuck in to other stuff, so it sat about headless for ages.

Last weekend I made the tail.

Yesterday I finally made the head and ears and sewed it all together. BUT.

I looked at it this morning and just didn’t like it. I couldn’t work out what it was but it just wasn’t great. In the end I decided it was the ears. They were a mess, really. Luckily, the pattern has more than one way to make the ears. So I made a new one. And removed the others. Then I took off his nose and mouth too. Then I sewed on a new ear and decided it was better (if long), started making another and ran out of grey yarn! Pfft. So there’s a strip of slightly bluer yarn on one ear, but you can hardy tell. And I gave him a new face. He’s much better now.

I’d already made these trousers (forgot to include them in the inventory up there) and this jumper was made in Athens, when I lived there a couple of years ago. It was my first cable project and has been waiting for the right body ever since. Now he’s all set – he has ears and a face he likes and a warm wooly jumper for winter. And I’m happier too. Theres nothing worse than making something, finishing it, standing back for the big reveal and thinking ‘huh. Well that was a waste of time’. So. We’re all good.

I’m building up to trying sock knitting next. Seems like a thing people do? I was going to use Winwick Mum’s tutorial. I’m not sure if I’ll like it or not, but I probably won’t know until I try. I’m still too worried about knitting a human-sized jumper that costs a fortune in yarn and doesn’t fit, so sock knitting was a lower-risk way of tackling that sort of thing. That said, I also have various odd balls of yarn knocking about, so was wondering about knitting some toys and donating them. Hopefully people won’t mind odd coloured toys? We’ll see.

So that’s where we’re at. I don’t really mean to keep knitting the same things over n’ over but… I dunno. There’s something comforting in the repetition. And in the fact that when something goes wrong, it’s not so hard to fix. That sounds like a good thing right now, right?

¯\_(ツ)_/¯

No rush

A665F823-1A74-4A43-89F4-9D479F19E4E2So, according to Ravelry, I finished making the bear on the left in 2018! I can’t believe it was so long ago. Especially as I only finished her dungarees on Sunday.

I made her when I was trying to decide if I should leave my job, as I’d been offered another one elsewhere. She was my stress knit. She’s a regular sized bear, but just in thinner yarn, on smaller needles.

I made her some dungarees at the time, but I didn’t really like them:

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This was some ‘denim’ yarn I had in my stash, so I gave it a go. But I didn’t love it. It’s a bit too patchy and a bit too washed out. (This photo is actually quite good. It’s not this good in real life). Also, I’ve noticed, I didn’t do a very good job on the knitting. Having made a few pairs since, I’ve noticed there’s a nice line that’s supposed to come up from the pocket to the inside edge of the top section. On the photo above you can see it’s a stitch out.

So when the pattern for the small rabbit and the small dungarees came out, I treated myself to some ‘Schachenmayr Catania Denim Originals‘. There’s 2 colours that look denim-y, numbers 0052 (lighter) and 0050 (darker). I got them both as I wasn’t quite sure which one would be right, and they’re not expensive. Turned out the rabbit looked good in the lighter one – and I tried the dress on the bear, and it looked like almost the right size, but the darker blue looked better. (This is a girl bear, she just doesn’t like dresses.)

So I added a couple of extra rows to the legs of the small dungarees, and there we have it. New dungarees for the bear. She looks so much better! It’s nice yarn. Previously I had (still have, actually, I’m trying to use it up) some thinner cotton yarn from Rowan. I hate it. Every colour is a bit milky looking and it’s a bit thin. It makes everything I knit look rubbish, if I’m honest. But this is a nice thickness and holds the stitches well. Suddenly I’m a pro knitter. Go me!

Just kidding. I was 16 rows into knitting the dungarees before I spotted I was using one 2.75mm needle and one 3mm. And once I’d spotted it I grabbed the right needle, got chatting and forgot to use it for the next row. But it all worked out in the end.

As for the bunny, more in the next post. I’m using a laptop and it’s so hot in the UK it’s hard to tell if the laptop is about to burst into flames, or I am.

I hope you’re keeping safe out there. Please wear a mask. It’s the kindest thing to do, and it’s not even hard.

Tiny wins

Sometimes it’s nice to be challenged, and sometimes it’s not. Work is pretty stressful – it has been ever since I joined this company (1.5 years ago), so what I need from my hobbies is a little peace and positive progress. Some quiet time to reflect, let my hands get on with things and my mind to stop fizzing. I can feel people’s disappointment when they ask what I’m making and it’s the same thing *again*, but that’s what I need at the moment. And I think there’s a lot of be said for practising your technique. I’ve definitely got better at some of the basic stuff.

jumpers

This is a jumper for the small rabbit and a jumper for the regular sized rabbit. The smaller jumper has a purl central double decrease (CDD) which the larger jumper does not. My first attempt at the purl CDD was pretty terrible. But I kept going, thinking ‘Yeah! It’s fine. FINE! Totally fine.’ It was not fine. So first thing next morning I unravelled everything to the point where the front, back and sleeves were separate panels and put them back on the needles.

unravelled

Except obviously I put two panels back on the needle the wrong way round, and then I took them back off the needles and put them on the right way round but in the wrong order. The picture above is when I’d transferred some panels to DPNs so I could re-transfer them back the right way round.

When I’d finally got myself together and everything in the right order it was 8.30am and time to start work. Which was annoying. (I’m very lucky to have a job. Don’t think I don’t know that). I managed to grab 30 minutes lunch break though, so I got back to it, and I used the technique from this video. It worked! So from chaos, a little order. And one more rabbit is clothed. I’ll take that as a win.

bunny_bowl

Here’s the rabbit in the jumper. Previously he was in the dress, but he didn’t seem to love it, so the blue bunny got the dress and he got some slightly too-tight trousers and a now-nicely-knitted jumper. This is the second rabbit I’ve put in a dress that just seemed to hate it. Sometimes I look at them and they’re just not happy. He looks happier now. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ 

huh

I decided to batch-knit some animals for various reasons. Stashbusting, gifts that need to be given and again, the need to do something that will probably turn out fine. Look at that though. Same pattern, and yet… someone wasn’t counting their stitches. I think they’ll be ok. When they’re done that 4 sets of clothes that need to be made. That includes the grey and brown ones from the bowl photo too.

I still don’t seem to have endless time on my hands. That novel I was never planning on writing will never get written at this rate! What I had planned on doing was teaching myself to knit in a more elegant fashion. I’m all fingers and thumbs and the flicking technique looks great, but… so far, so little time. I’ll get there.

walking

I did manage to get out for a walk yesterday though. We’ve lived here for over 2 years and this is the first time I’ve managed to walk this route. From door to field is about 8 minutes. I can’t believe it’s taken over 2 years to do an 8 minute walk! Now I know how easy and nice it is, I’ll do it again.

So that’s all from me. Hope you’re safe and well wherever you are.

tatting

Keeping busy

I can’t help but think people with hobbies are the lucky ones. People who can get absorbed in something they love for hours at a time, figuring out how something works, how to get something right, or just building up to a steady rhythm. Doesn’t matter what the hobby is, if you can do it in your own home and you have the equipment, you’re one of the lucky ones.

I took up crafting again as an adult for various reasons. But I kept it up for my mental health. In the past my partner travelled for work a lot, so I’d go for weekends, half a week, or a week or two without seeing people outside of work. Not talking to anyone from a Friday night to a Monday morning. Crafting, making things, helped give a rhythm or focus to what sometimes felt like a never-ending stretch of time.

And despite the fact that he stopped travelling a few years back (right around the time I started – although I too have now stopped) I’ve kept the crafting up, more or less. I like having a focus outside of work. I like starting things and finishing them. I still think the daily grind of an office job provides very little satisfaction when it comes to finishing things. Making stuff of your own helps with that.

Even if the things you’re making aren’t that useful… I haven’t tatted anything in ages, but I made this at the weekend:

tatting

I enjoyed it, although the mistakes are a bit annoying. I really love the rhythm of shuttle tatting. Such a nice motion. I got a bit obsessed with the brilliant tatters on instagram for a while – they’re all very good, and so much more talented than I am. But at the end of the day, this is a job for a lot of them. It’s not a job for me. There’s no harm in settling down in a cup of tea and following someone else’s pattern. What I want isn’t to be the best ever pattern designer, it’s just to feel the motion of the thread and the shuttle in my hands. I’m still amazed I can make something like this at all. And all just from a ball of thread and some knots! Amazing.

And there’s still knitting. This one still needs the rest of her outfit. She has a really sweet face that I’ve not managed to capture in this photo, but I’m really pleased with her actually. And I like her white ear.

spare_pair

While I was making her some trousers I made another pair too. I have other animals to make as gifts, so I thought I’d go into batch production mode.

messy

The kitchen table is a mess. That’s 4 pairs of arms, one body, one finished foot and one foot in progress on the needles. For some reason I thought making multiples of each body part would be a good idea. I’m not sure if it was or not. Jury’s out. I think I need to make 2 rabbits, but then I had the idea that I’d like to make a silver fawn. Felt like the grey and the white together would look nice. We’ll see.

I’m still looking for the perfect shawl pattern. I can’t believe how much I’m enjoying wearing the shawl I made. I’d still like it to be a faction bigger, but now it’s been worn a bit it’s loosening and softening up nicely. I like this cowl – it looks like a decent kind of length, but I’m not sure about colourwork in the round. I’m half tempted to just try it with some stash yarn for a few rows and see how annoying I find it. I like this patterned cowl too – literally that one, I think the colours are great. But again, I’m still not sure how up for that much colourwork I am… We’ll see.

What are you making? Whether you’re super productive or super unproductive I hope you’re finding a rhythm that suits you. Stay safe and well.

 

 

Small, medium, large

When I finished the shawl, mentioned in the previous post, I didn’t think I’d have much of a chance to wear it. Spring is (almost?) here and the weather should be getting warmer. As it happens, the weather isn’t warmer yet, and the company I work for switched to working from home 2 weeks ago. The room I work in at home is really cold (2 outside walls, no sun until the afternoon) so the shawl has been perfect – so warm. I’ve worn it every day. Too-tight stitches on too-small needles was the best thing after all!

I’m still missing knitting it though. If ever there was a time for mindless knitting it’s now. Stupid thing is, it took me months to find a shawl pattern I like and… that might be the only pattern I like! I like it because it doesn’t have a middle seam, and it doesn’t have big sections of knit stitch. Don’t ask me why, but I don’t like either of those things. Completely irrational I know. I also like how solid the Almina pattern is. I’m not a massively feminine dresser. I’m not one for lace trims etc (even though I quite like tatting lace trims). I just want something simple, and unfussy to wear. That shawl was perfect. I’m wondering about En Voyage next, maybe? It looks great in black too – even though I did say I should knit in brighter colours. Aisé is another option. I’ve already knitted Jared Flood’s Guernsey Wrap. If you’ve got any suggestions, let me know.

In the meantime I’ve been trying to finish the folks I started:

48758276-0B65-4C40-9806-05D1A6AAADFE

This is the small rabbit pattern, from Little Cotton Rabbits. It’s knitted in Rico baby classic DK yarn, on 2.5mm needles. I half made it just to see how big it would be.

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The one on the left is the same pattern, but in cascade 220, on 2.75 needles. The dress on the right does fit the one on the left. It’s a bit tight to get on, but once on, is fine. But as it fits the one it’s on so well, I might make a new dress for the one on the left.  (Are you still with me?) The one in the middle is the standard pattern, also in cascade 220, on 2.75 needles.

I have a short pair of 2.75 sock needles which aren’t bad for travelling – they don’t get bent when they’re shoved in a bag in a hurry. I had to travel a bit over the last 4-5 months and spend some time away from home, so took these with me. Easy to make a leg on the train, or an arm in a waiting room.

Overall,  the cascade 220 ones are more robust, so better for the children I’m going to give them too. The one in Rico will have to wait to find a new home. She was an intarsia test too – I’m still pretty bad at it to be honest.

So that’s where we’re at. Still some clothes to make. Still looking for The Next Big Thing. How are you doing?

 

 

 

Background projects and progress

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I started the Almina shawl (Ravelry link) in March 2019, and finished it in February 2020. That’s a long time to knit a shawl. It’s knitted on 4mm circular needles, with Cascade 220 wool. I bought the wool a long time ago to knit a jumper with, but given my terrible issues with trying to knit anything to scale, and having no idea what I’m really doing, I decided against making proper clothing.

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The wool is actually a charcoal grey. I thought I perhaps should never knit anything in such a dull colour again – because if you’re spending so much time with something, surely you should knit with something colourful and joyous… Like the golden yellow in the pattern example? But now it’s done I actually love it. It’s too heavy to wear outside the house I think (!) but in this grey, it’s perfect to throw on to keep you warm. I thought the triangular starting point would forever curl, but the stiff blocking in the top photo took care of that.

I knit far too tightly, but I know the yarn will relax eventually. I used the exact same stuff for the Guernsey Wrap, way back in 2012. Eeek! 2012. I haven’t progressed much as a knitter since then have I? I should be on clothing by now. Probably.

I must admit, I thought the wrap would never end. It seemed to take forever. There were times when I forgot it, and times when I was sick of it. But there were also times I was glad of it. Something to pick up quickly and carry on with. No real need to think about what to do, or where things were. No getting stuff out of cupboards as it just sat patiently waiting on the sofa. I took it away at new year on the annual trip I usually do with friends, and I was on the 2×2 rib by then.  What a joy that is to knit! So satisfying. Such a nice steady rhythm, no need to concentrate.

Now, after being so desperate for it to be over, I miss it. I didn’t realise how often I used it as a sort of guided meditation. There’s been a lot going on here, a lot to process mentally, and I think it’s helped having something ticking on in the background. Slow progress, but progress with every stitch.

There was the deer, too, which you can see in the photo underneath, on the left:

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I made her when Julie released the pattern – or at least, I made her head. I’d assumed I’d make a mess of it, but when that turned out ok, it took me 6 months to make a body and some clothes. She’s made of stash yarn, stuff that’s been knocking about for ages. I do like her dress and cardigan though, a mix of forest greens.

More recently I made the two unclothed rabbits on the right. The small one is Julie’s most recent pattern. I made them to gift, but due to the virus and cancelled plans, they won’t be gifted for a while. The mess in that photo was me trying to figure out what yarn would work for clothing – unpictured is the tiniest pair of rabbit trousers you’ve ever seen. Oops. I got there in the end, but now I have more time I think I might remake the jumper I was going to use. We’ll see. More photos another time.

I’m still trying to use up my stash yarn, so I’ll probably make some more animals while I look for the perfect Next Big Project. Animals are very satisfying to make. No big commitment, and I enjoy seeing their characters emerge. I also love that they’re knitted flat, and the patterns are so well thought out.

If you’re at home trying to work out what to do with your time, you could definitely do worse than use up some stash yarn, to try an animal of your own.