Sunday, 20 December 2009

A new challenge

I've put aside Concerto for a bit because of my husband. He happened to comment the other day that his fingers and hands were very cold. He turned the heat up in the house in an effort to get his hands warm, but it wasn't really working and my economical and environmental senses were screaming. "It's ok, I can make you some fingerless gloves." says I, confident in my knitting abilities. I had at first thought of taking a pattern I have for armwarmers and altering it, but after looking at it and consulting the husband, I knew it wouldn't work. The armwarmers only cover the bottom of the hands, and he wants something that goes up over his fingers. So I found a pattern and got started.

Boy, talk about a learning curve. The first part went fine. Then I got to the fingers. I don't think the thumb is going to be so bad, but the fingers, ye gods! First, I couldn't figure out the whole gusset thing. It took me about three froggings to get that sorted, including one down to the thumb and back up again. Then, I couldn't figure out what to do once I'd finished the first finger. Did I dare cut the yarn, and where did I get more to start the next bit? I figured that out at about 2 am last night, in one of my insomniac moments. I needed to cast on three stitches for another gusset anyway, between the next two fingers, so I might as well just take the yarn from that and use it to continue. All in all, it's been more an exercise in how to take things off needles and put them on again. In essence, I'm having trouble with putting it together, and not trouble with putting stitches aside, picking them up again, and the multi-needle techniques that go with it. One of the downsides of being unable to picture things and put them together.

I'm really hoping the other glove goes quicker than this one is. Still, it's a great learning experience - and I have learned a LOT - and the husband is being very patient in waiting for his handwarmers. :)

Saturday, 12 December 2009

Concerto, Part 1

Since the Concerto KAL is divided into seven parts, I've decided to work on one a week. I think I mentioned this before, but it bears repeating. I swatched on Monday, started on Tuesday, and finished part one on Friday. I'm quite pleased with the result, despite some mistakes. Somehow, after knitting the first row of flowers, I reversed the RS and WS (at least, that's what I think happened) and so the texture is different. I noticed it much later, after I'd done another two rows of flowers or so, and really couldn't bear to rip out all those stitches to fix it. I decided it adds something to the bottom of the work, and will try and replicate it on the other end for symetry's sake. The other mistake I've made is a little more minor and you probably can't see it from this picture - the top layer of flowers has a petal out of place. I must have miscounted or something. I had the vague feeling right after I'd done it that it was wrong, and though long and hard about whether I should rip it and try again. I convinced myself that there wasn't a mistake, that I was reading it wrong, and by the time I realised it was, I was rather resigned to it not being perfect. That's what makes it unique, right? ;-) Other than that, I'm very pleased with it. The colour of the yarn is lovely, and the texture too. The fact that it's a marl yarn makes it a little hard to knit with, and rather impossible to rip out and put back on the needles, so my lifelines are going to be really important. I had thought I would put one in per part of the stole, but I think I'll put one in per pattern repeat - that would have helped with the mistake on the flower near the end.

I'm making a six foot stole, since I'm quite short myself. I have enough yarn to make the seven I think, but I decided against it in the end. I have enough projects on the go/that I want to start that I shouldn't spend too much time on this. More pictures to follow next week when I complete part 2!

Thursday, 10 December 2009


Being on a tight budget, and with no preconceptions about needles, I starting building up a pile of what I thought were necessary needles for the projects I wanted to work on. Most were plastic, with some metal (aluminium) as well. When it came time for me to get double pointed needles, I searched around and found some really cheap on ebay. They were bamboo, and I instantly fell in love with them. Now, they are easily my favourite type of material for needles, and I get them wherever possible.

Because my first projects were in the round, I've gotten used to working with shorter needles. I recently picked up a pair of straights, and thought they were far too long. Granted, they were 14" needles, but it's going to take a special project to ever make me work with those again. Sad really, they were my first pair.

I'm making the Concerto on a pair of 10", size 8 (5mm) needles. They are absolutely awful, but 5mm were the best fit for the yarn, and I only had the 10" and the 14" straights in that size. They rattle and don't slide very well, but at least I have the lovely yarn to make up for them.

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

How I started, Christmas, and what I'm working on now

After keeping a journal, both in writing (private) and online (semi-public) for most of my life, I've decided to start a blog. I have recently gotten very excited about knitting, and since everyone I know who can knit is scattered all over the globe and not near me, and I only get to see like minded knitters twice a month, I need another outlet to rave about everything I'm working on. My husband is beginning to get the hang of smiling and nodding with that glazed look in his eye when I talk about charts not making sense, or needles being annoying, or how much I love this yarn. Hence, another outlet is needed.

From October until the present, I've been mostly working on Christmas presents, pictured to the side and below. I actually got the idea to knit the beginning of October, when I decided that because I had so much free time on my hands and very little money, I'd knit Christmas presents. I already had the basics down, but I soon discovered I had a lot to learn. The projects I picked required double pointed needles, which I didn't master until I'd tried using circular needles. Then I had to master simple lace techniques - the YO, ssk, and K2Tog. I was making multipes of each gift, one thing for the women and one for the men, so it didn't take me too long to get proficient. I finished those before my deadline of Thanksgiving, and took them to my family in Columbus. Upon returning home to Bristol, I had a black scarf on the needles, which had been started on holiday, as well as a shawl and my husband's Christmas present. I had been itching to start a stole called Concerto which was designed for a KAL - I discovered it after the KAL was finished, but love the stole, so I decided to make it. I also had to make a scarf for my father in law. So yeah, a lot of projects in the works!

I had been working on my husband's present during the holiday as well, after getting advice from my knitting teacher (my grandma) on how to do a knit-front-and-back-increase, so it was almost done. I took about a day more to get it fully finished, given that I could only work on it when he was at work. Last night, I finally got it washed, and it's still drying, waiting for the finishing touches. Pictures to come after Christmas, when he won't accidently stumble upon it!

I needed the right size needles to make the scarf for my FIL, so I had those ordered, and they came in the next day. It's a one skein keyhole scarf, and after 2 days working fairly intensely on it, I'm half done. It's supposed to be 40 inches done, but I'm not sure that's going to be long enough. I have extra  yarn, so if I want to I can make it longer.

The scarf I started in Columbus was really just something I put on the needles to keep myself from getting bored. I had taken the shawl and Adrian's christmas present to work on, but was stuck on the shawl with the pattern (the charts are hard to understand) and coudln't work on the present just anytime - he was around. I had bought some yarn, and had most of my needles with me, so I just went through Ravelry's list of things and decided on an eyelet scarf. At first I had notions of selling it or gifting it, but then I lost my scarf on the plane ride home, so it's going to be my new one. I'm just as happy - it's a cotton/silk blend that's super soft and is going to be lovely. There are a few mistakes, but I don't mind those. This is the work in progress, badly stretched out to show something of the pattern. Proper blocking will come later.

The Concerto stole is going to take a lot of my time, I can tell. My original plan, based on something I'd read from one of the other members, had been to work on it one night a week for 7 weeks, based on the 7 parts of the KAL. I therefore sat down last night and did the swatch, which took about an hour and a half and turned out superbly after washing and blocking overnight. I love the yarn, which is a lambswool, for it's softness, and hate it for the fact that it's very loosely 3 stranded. Marl is like that I suppose, but it's tricky to work with. Tonight, I started with the first part. There's one chart for each part, with written instructions for people like me who have trouble reading rows and hate charts. This chart introduces me to repeats (I've done next to no chart work, except the one which has bamboozled me), and has 36 rows in it if I recall correctly. You go up to row 31, then back to row 12 and repeat up to 31 again for the size stole I'm making. I've got up to 31, so tomorrow I just have to do the repeat and complete the chart. I got about 6 inches done tonight, which isn't bad for a few hours work on a rather wide (65 sts) work. Yes, I've worked on wider. The first thing I did in the round, a horrid shrug that I still can't figure out and intend to frogg, was over 100 sts. The shawl is getting up to 135 and probably isn't done there. But for something which is going to be 6 feet long, I consider 65 to be plenty. It's going to be fun going though, and you'll probably read a lot about it over the next few months.

PS, if you didn't find me through Ravelry, and want to see my works there, my username is writerdahling - feel free to friend me!