Monday, 22 July 2013

Is it ever too hot to knit?

I have to say that after the last few weeks of hot weather there have been times when I did think it was too hot to knit. It doesn't help that the commission I am currently working on is knitted in chunky weight yarn so I have only been able to work on it first think in the morning before it gets too hot. At other times i have been working on different projects which don't make me as hot while knitting.

Socks are always a good alternative in hot weather or as a project to carry around with you. I have several socks started, usually as the result of teaching a workshop. Quite often they stay in their 'just started' state for quite a while or if I finish the first sock, the second one can often take quite a while to complete.

This sock is the second of a pair worked in my zigzag and cable pattern published in The Knitter issue 49. The first sock was knitted some time ago before I knitted the sample pair for the magazine so I thought it was about time I finished this second sock. I have been working on it, on and off for the last few months so I should set myself a goal to finish it before the end of the summer!

As well as knitting this sock I decided I needed to make myself a bolero to go with the dress I have bought for my son's wedding. I decided to re-knit my 'Kidsilk Bolero' pattern but as I wanted something that would be fairly cool I have knitted it in Uppingham Yarns 100% Bamboo yarn.

I am pleased with the way it has knitted up. If I get a reasonable photo of me wearing it at the wedding I will post it. The bamboo has a nice drape and is between a 4ply and DK in weight, I guess nearer the American Sport weight. I was able to match the stitch gauge although the row gauge didn't match exactly but it seems to have come out OK.

Another piece I have been working on, off and on since June is the 'Dreambird Shawl' pattern from Ravelry. it is a variation on the 'Wingspan' pattern and uses the 'swing knitting' method of keeping track of your short rows and the German method of working short rows which has made it an interesting knit.

People who know me well know I don't often knit from someone else's pattern but as this pattern is using several techniques in a different way I thought it was worth trying it as I am always interested in new ways of working in knitting.

The last small project I thought I could work on in this hot weather is knitting with wire and beads.

I did start this project when teaching a wire and beads workshop earlier this year and thought this would be another good project to try and finish because it is small and knitted using wire which stays fairly cool (as long as you don't leave it in the sun). It is the same pattern as the lace and bead bracelet I designed for the bead knitting workshop at Unravel in February.

If I get any of these projects finished by the end of the summer I will post some more pictures. Let me know what you are knitting in this hot weather.

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Developing a Design Idea

A couple of months ago I had a crop jumper design published in Knitting magazine. The cable pattern on the garment was developed from photographs and sketches of ideas taken on one of the French Treats Knitting Holidays I taught on several years ago. Here is a picture of the finished garment.

Three years ago when I was teaching in France with Sasha Kegan I was teaching a workshop on cables and at the time I was asked to develop some cable patterns based on an Abbey we had visited the previous year. This was quite challenging as I didn't remember seeing anything  that would obviously work into a cable pattern.

The only image I could think of that might lend itself to being worked into some kind of cable was the ceiling in the cloisters at the Abbey. so I started doing some sketches and tracings from the pictures of the ceiling.

Playing around with these images, particularly the drawing on the right hand page of the image above did remind me a bit of some cable stitch patterns I had seen in one of my Japanese stitch library books. I went through the stitch library book and chose 2 stitch patterns to try knitting. I was also thinking about these stitch patterns being used in a cushion cover so knitted both at the same time with moss stitch between each pattern.

Having knitted this sample I liked the left hand pattern where the cable disappears into the 'arch' above and on the right hand pattern I liked the lace used to edge the cable. Both patterns came with charts so it was much easier to play around with the patterns in chart form. I worked up another chart and when knitted it looked like this.

I thought it worked OK as one of the samples for the knitting holiday that year but when I got home again I decided to work on the pattern a bit more to refine it a bit more and also to make it into more of a motif pattern than an all over pattern and here is the finished result...

The finished garment is knitted in an Aran weight cotton yarn. It is a long sleeve crop jumper but it would be quite easy to re-work as a normal length jumper.

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Circular Shawl Cardigan finished

In the last post I talked about re-knitting my new version of the circular shawl cardigan that was published in Knitting magazine last year. well I have now finished the re-knitted garment and if any of you came to the Unravel Knitting Festival at the end of February you may have seen me wearing the garment.

The images show the garment on my tailor's dummy which is a bit smaller then me but hopefully it show the star design and the fit reasonably well.I was quite pleased with the finished garment although I may make some slight alternations to the armhole depth when writing the pattern as I forgot to allow for the fact that the armhole opening is just a straight cast off/cast on section i.e. it needs to be a bit deeper than if you were making a shaped armhole.

The yarn has a nice drape and was nice and warm to wear even though it has elbow length sleeves. It did take quite a bit of yarn to make the cardigan, about 1kg of the Aran alpaca and it does still come down to just above my knees. 

I don't know that working the garment in a thicker yarn has made much difference to trying to adjust the length as a result of the construction but I do much prefer the finish I have achieved across the top of the shoulders as a result of working decreases rather than short rows.

The garment was knitted in Knitting4fun  Aran Alpaca. I haven't re-written the pattern for this yarn yet but the pattern for the DK weight version is now available from me. It is called Stella Cardigan so if you are interested in purchasing the pattern please contact me. It will be available soon from my Ravelry store .

And now back to more knitting....

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Circular Shawl Cardi

After a short diversion into cooking I'm back to my knitting again. Last year one of the designs I had published by Knitting Magazine was a circular shawl cardigan.

This design was an interesting challenge because it is quite difficult to knit a circular shawl with sleeves and still get it to fit the body quite well. I wanted to avoid the problem of 'turtle back' as some people call it, when there is too much fabric across the shoulders and back neck area.

The cardigan starts at the centre of the star motif in the middle of the back and grows outwards. On my first attempt at making this design I started with an eight pointed star and decided I would cast off for the armholes when the measurement between the one point and another point 2 sections away equalled the required back shoulder width.

After casting on the armhole stitches again I worked in short rows from shoulder around the bottom to shoulder again so I didn't add any more hight to the back neck area. Once I had worked the short rows to being the inequivalent of the shoulder slope stitches back into work I continued over all the stitches for the ribbed edge band.

I then picked up stitches around the armhole and knitted the sleeves. As you can see from the photos I had nearly finished the cardigan when I decided I should put it on my tailor's dummy to see what it would look like.

The length was quite good but I didn't like the way the star pattern sat across the shoulders, I felt the sleeves were much too deep and there was quite a lot of fabric at the back neck, so I undid the whole thing and started again. This time I used a seven point star pattern and the shoulder width was take between 2 point of the star. The rest of the construction was the same as the first version.

The second version is the one show in the pictures at the top and was the pattern published in the magazine. I was happier with this version although I was aware that there are still problems with the construction. Sizing is based on shoulder width rather than bust size but because of the way the garment is constructed after the armholes are made the wider a person's shoulders are the longer the cardigan will be, so someone who is quite short but broad shouldered may find the cardigan trailing on the ground.

I decided to knit the garment again but this time in a thicker yarn, the original was in DK Alpaca so I used an Aran Alpaca, to see if the cardigan would be a better length for larger sizes. I also decided to knit the cardigan in my size (about size 16) rather than the model's size (about 8 to 10). I knitted the whole garment and tried it on. It was OK but I didn't like the way it fitted the body. The cardigan felt like it was falling off my shoulders. Although some people would not mind this I didn't feel happy with the fit so decided to undo it to the start of the armhole cast off.

When I started unpicking I realised that I had made a pattern mistake further in than the armhole cast off so undid the cardigan to the point where the mistake was. This also gave me more time to think about the construction again. I decided that the measurement needed between the points for the start of the armhole needs to be narrower that back shoulder width. I also decided to cast on all the stitches again but instead of working short rows as I did in the previous garments I decided to continue knitting around the whole circle but to decrease each side of the back neck section to create some shaping across the centre back neck area while still adding more length to the rest of the garment as it comes around to the front.

These last 2 pictures show the re-worked cardigan so far. I am still decreasing across the back neck section until I am down to the number of stitches I want for the back neck width. This is created a nice shallow diagonal line, similar to a shoulder slope line, on the back and creating more fabric to come around to the fronts before the rib band is finished. At the moment the idea seems to be working OK. I'll update when I have finished the main body piece.

The finished cake

I did finish my cake a week ago on Monday in time for when the family came to visit. Here is the finished item.

I did a chocolate butter cream filing and finished the top with melted chocolate and sugar butterflies as you can see. Not necessarily the most artistic finish but the family did seem to enjoy eating it even if the sponges were a little overcooked.

I will need to get smaller cake tins if I ever use this method again but it was interesting to try...

Now back to knitting as I know what I'm doing most of the time!

Sunday, 27 January 2013

Cake baking not knitting!!!

I know it has been a long time since I posted anything. I did have lots of knitting things I was going to post about last year but never seemed to find the right time. I must try harder this year.

On a completely different subject, I have been watching the Comic Relief Bake Off and this has inspired me to bake a cake. My family will be completely amazed as I haven't done any baking for ages so I thought I would record the event in pictures as well.

I decided I would try a new cake and a different method of making cakes at least for me. In the past I have always made a 'Victoria Sponge' type cake creaming the butter and sugar, adding eggs and then the flour etc. This cake starts with melting the butter and sugar.

That seemed to go OK. Allow to cool for a couple of minutes and then add an egg and beat the mixture. After that add the flour and cocoa.

This also went OK and then add the milk with Bicarbonate of soda added gradually. It all looked good and as you can see the cake tins were all greased and ready. You may also notice a glass of wine in the background, which is of course a very important ingredient in any cooking!

The mixture all looked fine and went into the oven to cook.

After the allotted 25 minutes I opened the oven. The cakes had risen and I checked they were cooked. I was a little concerned that they did seem a bit thin.

The cakes turned out on the wire tray to cool without any problem but I did check the recipe to find I should have used 6 inch cake tins! I don't have 6 inch cake tins. I do have 7 inch and 8 inch tins and as I had always used the 8 inch tins in the past, this is what I used, hence the 'being a bit thin'.

I still have to make the icing and put the cake together and then force my family to eat the cake, so I will report back later!