And down she goes

In my last post but one I was talking about slippery slopes, wasn’t I? And left you without explaining what I meant.

I was referring to this stole I made. I had some balls of rayon that Jaishree gifted me, which were sources of amazement to me primarily because of the fact that they stayed rolled. I find the yarn so slippery I cannot manage to roll it from a hank, yet she actually Continue reading

About slippery slopes…

…and good intentions.

I did intend to be a more frequent blogger, honest. That is, when I was not thinking of shutting down the blog altogether. But well. There’s work (March was hectic), some weaving, lots of reading (Simon Brett, an abortive Cecilia Ahern [I think I'm too old for her, I was quite bored and couldn't finish the book], Dick Francis [I actually found one that apparently I hadn't read], lots of comfort reads) and reading always beats most other things. And I think it always will.

So. Only a couple of posts in March.

Among the things I wove in March was this scarf, with some textured yarn I bought from Pony, that I would normally never have bought for crochet or knitting.

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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.

IMAG0245

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 case of two blocks.

Last time I wrote about my Honeymeade shawl, in Tunisian lace. The project I am writing about today preceded it but I was somewhat disappointed with it and so I didn’t feel like blogging it.

The thing was, it was made in Knit Picks Palette, a 100% wool yarn. I liked the colour a lot, but had two issues with the yarn itself. First, it is listed in the Ravelry database as a fingering yarn, which I find hard to believe; second, being wool, it needs blocking and reblocking, which daunts the lazy in me.

Anyhow. What you see above is what it looked like after my first attempt at blocking. I was quite unhappy that the eyelets hadn’t opened up to be lacy enough. The shawl is dense. I did love the technique, though, which uses linked stitches turned sideways (making them Tunisian short rows) and decreases and yarnovers to make it lacy. Quite a lot of fun to do. As I doubtless mentioned in my post about the Honeymeade.

See? No holes, Ma!

So I grumbled. But then a friend suggested I should soak the thing overnight so the wool absorbed water and then block it again. Look now.

Better holes

Look! Holes.

I’m a convert. To the extent that soaking and blocking does seem to be effective. But I have a sneaking doubt, given the humid climate I live in, how long before the shawl shrinks back?

Oh, and just see what a difference the right model makes. I found a natural model in my neighbour, who showed off the shawl much better than I could have.

That's how it's done.

That's how it's done.

This is the Dublin Bay Shawl pattern from Aiobhe Ni Shuilleabhain (Rav page).

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.