A year’s work.

On Ravelry there is a group which began in 2010 for people wanting to make 10 shawls in 2010. I’ve bee a member since then, but never have managed to make 10 in ’10, 11 in ’11 and so on. I did have a narrow miss last year, when I achieved 11 in ’12. That was disappointing. The rules are strict, you can’t pass off a scarf no matter how complicated or yarn-consuming as a shawl or stole.

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Hello there!

Yes, I know. I last posted here on the last day of the last year. And to be perfectly frank, I was considering whether to mark this blog as dead. I have too little to say which I haven’t already said on Ravelry.

However, this is by way of being a test post. A friend was asking why her blog posts aren’t showing up on the South Asian Crafters group page on Ravelry and I had to confess I hadn’t blogged this year at all. As moderator of said group, I thought I would post here and see if my post shows up.

One of the small projects I finished this year was a set for a friend with a new baby. I tested the frock pattern for the designer and then made the booties to match. Wool sock yarn, since the things were for a London baby. And the yarn (squooshy!) was from a sock yarn club I (bought? took? participated in?) as one of those “Try everything once” things.

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The dress happened to be the 300th project I’ve entered into Ravelry. The designer has cute girls of her own, so I get to try out lots of girly stuff when testing for her. They’re usually quick projects, plus she lets me use whatever yarn I have on hand.

The booties were in my queue for a long time. I’m always attracted to things with brioche stitch in them. I entirely forgot to send the leftover yarn to my friend, though. I’m told the baby liked them.

A toss-up

It was a toss-up whether I should use a lull in my schedule to blog or get back to knitting on the Summer Mystery Shawlette or a project I’m testing for someone on Ravelry. Blogging won narrowly, if only because I can finish and get back to knitting. But once I lose the impetus to blog, it’ll not come back for a while.

I was reassured that I still do have readers (thank you, you know who). I’m not surprised that in general the incentive to blog or read blogs has declined with the rise of Ravelry. One neat project page there gives you absolutely everything you’d want to know about a project. Which means that writing a blog post that is interesting of itself is a great challenge. Some manage to do it with sheer brilliance of writing, some add personal details or philosophy, and some floor you with amazing images. I cannot do any of those; my writing is technically fine but lacking sparkle, I have no philosophy I’d feel comfortable sharing, my personal life is humdrum and my photography barely passes muster. Much of this is due to laziness, of course, and therefore self-perpetuating. I do not, of course, speak of those creative people who actually make up patterns or techniques and therefore have their blogging raw material handy.

However! As a tribute to my readers that are, here are a couple more things I made a while ago and never blogged about. They were commissioned by a friend for her toddler son but arrived too late to catch the fag end of last winter. Both were made with acrylic available locally, as being easiest to find and care for.

The first was the popular Baby Sophisticate pattern, which I adapted slightly to suit my yarn (a heavy worsted weight) and the finished size I was aiming for (Ravelled here). The second was Ola’s Vest (project page here) which caught my eye because of the stitch pattern. The mostly stockinette patterns suited me, since the yarn was thick anyway. I didn’t want to end up with body armour.

I only used my brain in working out how many stitches to cast on for the Sophisticate (which seemed to have worked and anyway I had a lot of help from the projects of other Ravellers), and in trying a different decrease for the v-shaping of the neck ribbing on Ola’s. The latter wasn’t very successful, since I was aiming for a sort of “merging into one another” sort of look and ended up with, “oh dear, that looks a mess, so glad it’s a small bit”. Ah well.

Both went to their owner, but I suppose I’ll have to wait until winter for posed pictures. The ones I took were poor, since I wanted to get them mailed off quickly (I’d delayed the finishing of them quite a bit so my conscience was troubling me already), so you’ll pardon me if I show dark indoors photographs. They are as yet my only mementos. The second one first.

Ola's vest

I must add, though, that I was fairly happy with how the ribbing ended up on the sleeves and neck. It looks as it ought to. I’m never comfortable with picking up stitches “evenly”. The thing grew, though, in the wash and now I wonder if I will have to wait until not this winter but the next to see it worn! That’s if the world hasn’t ended from a variety of causes in the meantime. The other thing to note is that my new (then) bamboo circular needle did not give me much pleasure. It was far too grippy for the acrylic (as I found on another more recent project) and I had to change to Denise plastic, which then worked swimmingly. Except that due to my hate of cutting yarn, I left ends dangling and purled instead of knitting, which made picking up the long slipped stitches a bit of a challenge. You want to solve one problem so you cut corners and create another!

And here’s the first sweater.

Trying for an artsy shot but failing

The blue-grey of this one means you get no idea of the actual colour from my photograph. Tough.

I didn’t weigh the sweaters, so I don’t know how much yarn they used. Yarn here is sold by weight and not length, which usually isn’t a problem if you are the creative sort of knitter and make up your own patterns or can just look at a finished piece and guess how to make it. You then generally have the knowledge to ask the guy in the shop for exact amounts of yarn. If you aren’t on the other hand that sort of knitter but rely heavily on being spoonfed by someone else’s hand, then you just walk into the shop and tell him the size of person the sweater is for and they can generally tell you how many grammes of the yarn you’ve chosen you will need to a nice degree of accuracy. Your problem then comes if you are using several different colours for a specific pattern and have to estimate how much of each you might need. Then you just buy and hope for the best. It’s a toss-up.

Not right at all!

With a shock I realised I last blogged at the end of January. Shameful! Do I even have any readers left? In my defence, much of what I made since then has been on commission for others, which, while not secret, hasn’t had any modelled pictures forthcoming. I’d been waiting for those. But they never do materialise. Sad but true. Ah well.

Anyway, here are two easy but elegant shawls in crochet I made to test the patterns for the designer. I love how fast crochet shawls work up (though since I used laceweight for the second one, it did take a while). The first is the V-front shawl, which I used acrylic 4-ply yarn for. The design is slightly unusual and fun to do. It sped by. Details on my Ravelry project page. This one has gone into my “giftables” stash.

Artsy shot of V-front shawl

The second was Viva, and used the remainder of a skein of wool laceweight yarn I made a knit shawl from for someone on Ravelry, details of which are below. Because of the fineness of the yarn, this one took a while. Also, as per usual, I was working on the edge of my seat, in not knowing how far the yarn would go, and obviously I had no way of getting more (I could have, probably, but only with some effort). So I decided to work the two halves from either end of the skein, which had luckily been wound into a cake by the giver. The construction of the shawl was clever and helped in this, since the centre is worked first and then the two halves. So once I’d decided the centre was large enough, I simply burrowed in for the second end of the skein and just worked on the other half while using the outer end to continue on the first half without cutting. To make sure I made the two halves equal, I did two rows on one half and then two on the other. This worked excellently and I was able to finely balance the yarn to its fullest use. Win! The shawl has been given away since. A modelled pic and others in my project page.

Artsy shot of Viva

The other shawl (the fraternal twin of this one) was knit from the popular Multnomah pattern, on commission from the giver of the yarn, on Ravelry. Plain and serviceable, I’d call it, since the yarn was monotone and therefore not very exciting visually. But warm, I should think. Details, again, on my project page.

Yes, artsy shot of Multnomah

Interesting to compare how the yarn works with knit vs. crochet, yes?

I hope to be less dilatory with my next post.

Inspired

We had some unseasonal rain here in Hyderabad (where I’ve been visiting for the past few weeks). What I made will not protect against that. It’s entirely decorative, with very little practical application. Only the “Ooh” factor.

Knit lace parasol

Doily on a frame

I’ve long been watching all the gorgeous crochet parasol patterns whenever I come across them, and been wanting to make one myself. I didn’t think I ever would. Then inspiration struck. I’ve been using this modified shawl as a tablecloth on the coffee table in Kochi. I removed it after Chandra began “cruising” (walking with support), because I was afraid she’d pull it off and fall. Not too many eyes view it anyway, or appreciate it. So I thought I’d put it on an umbrella frame a la crochet parasols.

I thought about finding a large enough empty frame, but didn’t. After coming here, though, I saw an old grandfatherly type of umbrella my father had, its original silk slightly moth-eaten, and it struck me as ideal for the purpose. From the thought to the deed took only as long as it took to sew the lace to the spokes, after ripping the silk from the frame. The central cast-on was sloppy enough to allow me to simply poke the top through. I wondered if I should let the excess lace droop around the spokes, but then decided against it.

Instead I ran some spare yarn through, tightened it, knotted it and wove the ends through. And there you have it.

Something I made that actually looks like art! I wish I could get a larger audience for it, though! I think not enough people noticed it in Chandra’s birthday party, stuck as it was over a light above the mouthwatering dinner spread. Plus I was too busy hostessing to point it out to people who’d appreciate it. I think I shall tell my mother to carry it around when she goes out in the summer. She was after all, partly responsible for me doing this, by asking if I could make a crochet parasol like one she saw at a saree exhibition once.

See the frame

Side on

ETA: I only realised now that I haven’t linked to my Ravelry project page on this post. Remedying that right away.

It was not to be.

I fell in love with this pattern when it first appeared on Ravelry, so you can imagine my joy when it came up for testing. No matter that I’d never done stranded colour work before or duplicate stitching, I jumped to volunteer for testing. I sent up a desperate appeal for India’s only cotton yarn (we’ve never heard of any other than threads) and a friend kindly volunteered to send me some. Which she duly did to me in Hyderabad and I set out to make the dress.

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As you can see, the idea was a good one. Only, in the execution, user error crept in and the project was a fail. For several reasons, including: my first colour work, and it shows; it ended up too small even though I made it 6-months and Chandra was around 5 months old then and she is a small baby; I’m mortal afraid the red/maroon will run, so I’ve not even washed it; I don’t like the long floats from the duplicate stitch.

Pattern: Paisley Baby Dress by Mimi Kezer of Pastiche Knitwear (a Ravelry shop). There’s a matching hat. In addition to colour work and stranding and duplicate stitching, I also did my first picot edge hem.

Needles: 3.5mm

Yarn: Laura (the only cotton yarn sold in India for handknitting, as opposed to thread). It’s DK-ish. It’s fine, but not a luxury cotton, while not quite a dishcloth one either.

Time: About eight days, so it’s fairly easy, considering I’d never done a colourwork pattern before.

Size: Too small for Chandra

I have this now and don’t quite know what to do with it. For one, it’s small, for two, the colour might run (I know I should have tested for fastness before I used it, but I needed it in a hurry and was getting it from another city sight unseen, plus I needed it in a hurry!), for three I don’t like the long floats and finish of my duplicate stitching on the bodice and for four the stranding and the cotton make it a dense thing. I’m half tempted to sew up the bottom and turn it into a bag. Or maybe when my doll has a doll of her own she will use it for her wardrobe.

I’m thinking I might make it in acrylic, which would make it lighter and the elasticity of the yarn would make better looking stranding.

I knit both colours with my right hand for this project, but have since started using the left for one strand and knitting it continental, scooping the yarn with the RH needle in a motion which is very similar to crochet and therefore quite quick. I haven’t purled with it yet, so I cannot say how fast I’d be that way. I do not appear to have tension issues either. Much happier with the two strands kept apart than forever having to detangle (disentangle?) them.

Green and blue and grey all over

Yes, I’ve decided to grace the Internet with my priceless writing again. (Such a shame not to have updated my blog for nearly two months now!)

I thought I’d show off this baby blanket I made while in Hyderabad (Now I’m back in Cochin. Life is not in a very happy place, but very little can or will be done about that).

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I had from various friends this sport-ish weight cotton yarn, and despite being from different sources, it coordinated very well (except for the grey in my opinion, but I used it up anyway). I’ve long wanted to use it in a pattern like this or this (Rav link) or this or this. I like the idea of stockinette for my blankets, for invariably I’m working with stashed yarns in single skeins and stockinette uses less yarn than garter does. Also, garter would be denser and therefore not suitable for a warm weather baby, as most of my recipients have been so far.

There are lovely garter stitch patterns out there, and I’ve considered trying to convert them to stockinette, but apparently my geometry skills aren’t up to it (there is another project which has become a (what is that word I’m looking for…oh this mommy-brain is irritating!) let’s say, favourite, go-to when I take the baby out, but I discover I never blogged it). So I was dithering as usual. I only took cotton with me to Hyderabad (too many parentheses in this here post, but my mind’s like that nowadays – except for some mystifying wool, mystifying in the sense of “why?”) and made sure to have the Paton’s Grace with me. And the Schachenmayr nomotta Catania, which is the grey.

Yarn: As I said, 4 skeins of Paton’s Grace and one of the Catania. The yarns are almost identical, except the latter had a few yards less (despite what the label says). This led to some innovative re-designing (I used the variegated in the corners of the monochrome squares, to make it a ‘design feature’, as I ran out of the grey with only about 6 rows (about 30 stitches) to go).

Pattern: Found here (there’s a PDF also available). Continuing my quest for most acreage out of a single skein, however, I wanted to have a stockinette based border rather than a garter one. I like the old shale (or feather and fan according to some descriptions) pattern, but only found it in triangular shawls or rectangular stoles. I needed help in figuring out how to turn corners and increase, so for that I turned to this pattern (Rav link). The designer was kind enough to send me the updated version with charts included. With this in front of me, I nicely mangled the corners. I used an entire skein for the border. Instead of having a purl row, I knit a knit row.

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I quite liked the mitred squares, with no seaming and stitch counts that reduced at every other row. I might even make another blanket this way.

Needle: 3.25mm. You can do the body on straights, but you’d need a circular for the border, whichever pattern you chose for it, unless you want to seam some rows at the end.

Time: Just over a month, but that was because I realised after making the third square that I’d picked up stitches wrongly and had to frog and redo that square. I think it was also in the wrong colour perhaps.

Size: At 29″ square, it’s a respectable size for a newborn to be swaddled in and decent enough to serve as a covering for later. (Going by my newborn, at least). If you actually used DK or worsted weight as you ought to, you’d have a proper sized blanket.

Extra: I loved the pattern and the possibilities it offers. Plus, no seams to sew! Plus, stashbusting! Only that a certain person sent me a bucketload of cotton yarn she was destashing since, so that particular goal was negated.

The blanket has now gone to live in New York with a Raveller friend whom I met when she visited Kerala last year, and who is having a baby any time now. I think the colour scheme goes with what they’ve chosen.

I hope to return for my next post much sooner than I’ve been doing. Until then, hang in there!

Lace (whew).

White Atlantic

Sometimes I surprise myself with how deluded I can be. Something told me I’d be able to do this, despite having a fairly recently born baby and my natural indolence. So when the designer posted looking for testers, I jumped right in with both feet. I finished a week over schedule, but the designer was understanding.

Pattern: White Atlantic (Rav link) (well, mine is pink, but it was the only fingering weight I had in enough quantity) by Julia Riede. I can’t see if you can buy it outside Ravelry, I’m not sure how it works.

Yarn: Unbranded fingering weight acrylic, about 150 gms. The part I like about acrylic (in addition to its ubiquity) is that I can kill it once and for all after the piece is done. We aren’t looking for warmth, after all.

Needles: 2.75mm

Size: While the pattern is for a stole-width object, I ended up more scarf-ish. I could perhaps have gone up a needle size or two.

Time: About 4 weeks, but I wasn’t full time at it.

Extras: My first time making something which had a central provisional cast-on which you later undo and work the second half from. I used a crochet cast-on, of course. The improved method shown here. It’s become quite my favourite method when dealing with a larger number of stitches. It was also the first time I did the popular feather and fan pattern.

White Atlantic

I found the body pattern slightly challenging, in the sense that I couldn’t work without a chart. I was also doubtful about the borders and edging, but a chat with Julia cleared that up.

I like to learn something with every project I make, so the working from the centre and the new stitch patterns in this made it worthwhile.

I must mention that being at home with my mom means I have no work to do, hence all the knitting I do. Just so you don’t think I’m superwoman or anything close.