Monthly Archives: November 2013

Day five: finishing fever!

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And so it turns out I can knit a hat in five days. I was definitely more focused on one project than in a normal week – the spinning wheel has sat bereft, and it was an easier pattern than some so I could pick it up for the odd minute here and there and do a bit as I had opportunity. Even so I was quite strict with myself to continue to do all the usual things I usually do so it’s a reasonably representative week. I guess nothing went really wrong in the week or the knitting to particularly slow me down which helped. That was really fun!  IMG_9168

And I am really pleased with the end product. I wanted a nice, cosy, slouchy hat and here it is. The reverse stockinette stitch is a favourite of mine at the moment and I am always a fan of cables. These were nice easy ones, perfect for working without a cable needle. The yarn is perfect for this project and I love the colour. Looking forward to a toasty school run. At least, my head will be warm…

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Day four: it was going so well…

So yesterday I was feeling pretty pleased with my progress. Then the first row I did today I somehow forgot to do three of the sets of cables, a total of six missed cables. Uh oh.

Ha! You think this is turning into another tale of woe but no! About three weeks ago I learned how to fix cable mistakes without ripping out whole rows. It involves using a cable needle to unpick and cable the bit you missed with a crochet hook. Remarkably easy and super satisfying. Sorry for those ready to enjoy a calamity (mine are often amusing, at least from someone else’s point of view) but that will have to wait for another day. Nearly there….

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So yes, that picture is slightly familiar. I think I got muddled and put up the wrong photo yesterday or didn’t take one earlier when I had or something. Anyway….

This is what three days of hat knitting looks like for me…

Just two repeats of the cable pattern to go and then into the shaping for the crown. These smaller cabled motifs are really easy to remember, patterning over four rows and making a nice rhythm to the knitting. This yarn is perfect for the pattern – nice sheen but solid enough to let the cables really stand out. And really, really soft.

It was very chilly on the school run today. Looking forward to warmer ears soon…

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Hat challenge: end of first day

Good progress so far! Which is good because it is likely to be my best day for knitting time this week.

Really enjoying the pattern – very clearly written and it’s fun watching the patterns emerge. I haven’t made anything on this size needle for a while so it feels like its growing quickly. I’m using magic loop rather than DPNs which I like a lot. It also means it’s possible to try it on along the way so I’ve got a reasonable idea that it’s about the right size.

At this rate I think it is going to be possible, but it’s unlikely to keep going at this rate so we will see. It occurs to me that I don’t think I’ve knitted a hat for an adult before at all which seems surprising.

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Hat week challenge

I have set myself a challenge to knit a hat in a week because I thought it would be fun, and I wondered if I can, and I need a new hat. It’s got really cold on the school run and my coat with a hood is eleven years old so although the hood is warm the rest of the coat is not so much.

The pattern is from Woolly Wormhead called Tangled River

There are people on the raveley page who have made it in two days, but I am not certain how their knitting time compares to mine. It does make me think it is possible though.

So I swatched and cast on last night. It’s a new cast on for me – called the alternate cable cast on. You alternate knit and purl stitches into the cable cast on, which wasn’t as tricky as I expected and gives a nice beginning edge for the 1×1 ribbing for the brim.

I’m using some birthday yarn bought at the Stitch Up last month (good timing for a birthday): Babylonglegs semi precious. I’ve used Babylonglegs yarn once before for the wussy pillow mittens and I really enjoyed it that time. I’m finding the same this time. I’ve got the colour way called “Mrs. Popeye” which is unexpected. But I do like spinach.

My plan is to post updates through the week to show my progress. Which probably means not such great pictures. Definitely not great pictures today as Ben is away for the day. I’ll get him to take some good pictures when it’s done…

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Wow Ben and Sara Brook have weird blue spots on their table. I never noticed.

Navajo plying

IMG_9028Until now I’ve done simple plying with two strands held together but a couple of weeks ago there was The Stitch Up, an event at my local yarn shop. There were several stands with some of my favourite wooly people. One was Katie from Hilltop Cloud. I get a lot of my spinning fibre from her etsy shop. I love the colours she blends and the resultant yarns. She also specialises in British breeds of sheep which I think is interesting and positive. Katie was scheduled to do a demonstration of Navajo plying at the show and I decided that to get the most out of that, before the event I would find out about this method of plying and have a go at it.IMG_9032

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Navajo plying (or chain plying) involves creating slip knots with one single and then plying the three strands created by the slip knot together making a yarn from a one single rather than two or more. The result is a three ply yarn. It makes sense to make the slip knots as long as possible, reducing the number of knots in the yarn (which should be largely undetectable) and the potential weak points associated with these. It sounds complicated but in practise it’s quite straightforward.

IMG_9022The main advantages of this method are that a three ply yarn is stronger and more robust than a two ply (a threefold cord is not quickly broken…), and that if your fibre is variegated you can keep the colours separate more easily as you ply one bit of single with the next bit of the same single. If you two ply a variegated yarn with two singles unless you are very careful and accurate about how you separate the colours in the fibre up, you are likely to get a barber pole effect which is fine if that’s what you want, but it’s nice to also have the choice to keep a more striped style to your yarn.

IMG_9023This was really good timing for me to learn about this as I have some really lovely variegated fibre (Sweet Georgia) comprised of browns and teal. I’m planning for this to become Scottish Reel and now I’ve learned this method of plying I can create a yarn of about the right weight with nice sections of the different colours.

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Next up…

Whilst making Luciole I have also been preparing the yarn for my next project. The pattern calls for yarn made out of yak, which I have but I decided I would rather spin the yarn for this project and would make it in stripes. That meant spinning three shades of Shetland fibre plus a skein of cream merino and what remains of the green I used in my stripy jumper. It seems amazing that one breed of sheep should make such different colours.

I discovered whilst spinning this fibre that it’s not only the colour that’s different in this fibre. Now I come to think about it that’s not surprising given that something must make the colours different but it hadn’t occurred to me that this would be the case until I came to spin it. It’ll be interesting to see if I find differences in the yarn as I knit with it too. It took me quite a while to get everything ready – I wanted to have it all ready before I began, but now I’m all set with skeins made into balls…

….And a swatch…