Selbu Modern Beret

Quick post for a quick project:

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I planned this to stashbust leftovers from my Natsumi and Arabella sweaters, and I still have some leftover yarn! What to do?

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I knit this exactly as written except for adding 10 extra rows (half a repeat) before beginning with decreases. I find that to get the kind of slouch I like,  I need to knit the hat straight till it is the length of my palm, from base to fingertips, before the decreases.

Details
Pattern: Selbu Modern
Yarn: Madelinetosh Merino Light; Pecan Pie and Dusk
Needles: 2.5mm for ribbing; 2.75mm for colourwork
Ravelled: here

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A Tiny Exaggeration

I am amazed and bemused to report that I stopped knitting for a month. There was too much travel and too much work, both adding up to too much stress, even though of a good kind, the stress of accomplishment and success; but whenever I tried to pick up any knitting, my mind cringed and said “No!”

So odd!

Once all the travelling was done I tried to start, but couldn’t. My Ravelry queue, full of things I’d longed to make, bored me. The sight of my WIPs exhausted me. Fondling skeined yarn irritated me. Nothing new inspired me. So I just stopped knitting.

In the meanwhile, I’d been discussing a baby sweater with a pregnant friend. And what a pleasure it is, to discuss gifts with people who know exactly what they want! A clear “yes” or “no” is so much more helpful than “whatever you like”!

After some discussion, the design brief was as follows: great looking rather than intended for the long-term; to be used for the newborn photoshoot then framed, so would have to be the smallest size; no insipid pastels; no dull colours like brown or black; to suit a super-cool individual who just happened to be an infant. The sort of infant who sits in plush velvet armchairs in his library, in horn-rimmed glasses, reading leather bound books and smoking cigars (ok, perhaps the last bit is a trifle exaggerated!!).

So of course I knew it had to be a shawl collar smoking jacket. With stripes or colourwork for emphasis. And matching booties. And some extravagant colourwork on the cap to show off my knitting skills. And since the kid would outgrow everything in a month, why not a toy which he could use for a longer time? Everything colour coordinated of course!

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And lo and behold: even as I was planning it all out my knitting mojo came back! I suppose a baby set was different enough to tickle my brain and get it going again. I also managed to use up a lot of scraps yet make a coherent colour scheme, so felt happy about that too.

All yarn and gauge details are on each item’s Ravelry page. Briefly, here’s the final set:

Baby Sophisticate Cardigan– I should have ‘shawlled’ the collar more, but needed to save the yellow yarn for the rest of the items.

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Saartje’s Booties – made with as few ends as possible to avoid the previous set’s nightmarish millions of ends to sew in.

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Cap – simple garter brim cap with colourwork quickly charted out on paper.

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Purlbee Hedgehog – ran out of the fuzzy white at the bottom of the belly and had to use the heathered grey. Did three rows of 1×1 checkerboard pattern to make the colour change look intentional, and I quite like the effect now! Added bowtie in same yellow yarn from other garments so that it looks like part of the set.

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And that’s it! Thank you Baby E (whose name is still unknown, but who has been informed at an embryonic stage that his middle name shall be Exaggeration, so I can call his mother the ‘Mother of Exaggeration’) for making me happy to knit again!

Done and Done!

Not one FO but two!

04 front

Burrard fits just as I like it this time round. I’ve written all about the various elements before, so this is just pretty pictures. It was totally worth it to unravel and redo this one instead of giving it away. Look at the fresh, petal-like colour!

The older version (left, below) was quite tight and pulled up every time I wore it. I hated the way the cables were distorted, and it was also kind of useless since I couldn’t wear any layers inside. The new one (right, below) still fits perfectly because of all the shaping, but has plenty of ease for inner layers. And the length is correct for an outerwear sweater! Ravelled here.

full 02  02 front

And also, an Epistropheid, using leftovers from my Dusseldorf pullover. I’m a bit bummed, though, that I still have a quarter of a skein left. I hate hanging on to leftovers!

004 slouch 2

I was going to make a ginormous pompom, but that would have hidden the extremely pretty crown shaping, so there it is. I started this without a gauge swatch or anything, and it was a quick two-day knit, so am very pleased with how it worked out!

002 flat back

Ravelled here.

Botanical Labours

I made another Taffy Blouse. Nothing much to say, it’s a nice little pattern and fits well.

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Pattern: Taffy Blouse from Colette Sewing Handbook

Fabric: Botanical print fine cotton for everything, including self bias bindings. Unlike my previous Taffy with viscose, the cotton wasn’t such a pain to cut. I laid the fabric flat, laid pattern pieces on it, marked around, then flipped the half piece to mark the other side, and nothing slid around.

Pattern Changes: Moved up location of ties. For the next iteration, I may move them even further up, close to underbust level. Bias tape used was 1 ½” wide before any folding.

Size: I went with 0, since that seems to fit my frame best. If I had chosen the recommended size, I would have had to pick 4 or 6.

Garment: I like it, will probably make more. I’m trying to find a good combination of sheer and solid fabrics, so I can attach the solid as an integrated slip.

Also in repetitive projects, I made another Baby Berry Hat, with little purl bumps to simulate strawberry ‘seeds’. Whenever I offer to make hats for friend’s children, I give them a choice of patterns I’d be happy to make. Besides the hat above, I give an option for a lovely lacy child’s bonnet and an adorable little stranded cap. Without fail, parents always choose the Baby Berry – they cannot resist the urge to see their children as edible little fruit! There’s got to be a Freudian analysis of that!

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Undergrowth

Undergrowth grew like a weed (har har) on my needles and I finished it within days.

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I used the pink as MC and the tan as CC, because I wanted dramatic blocks of pink where the leaves unfurl. I really like the result, although it’s a bit of a dissonance to read the chart since the CC there is a darker square.

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Now for the braid: I read the instructions too literally, and moved the yarns to the front to purl them one at a time resulting in total failure. Finally I hunted on the internet, read a couple of blogs, and then understood: the braids are basically stranded knitting worked inside out. You are purling, and carrying the floats in front, so both strands have to be brought to the front and kept there throughout. The floats become slanted because they are consistently twisted before each stitch. The direction of the twist determines the slant of the float. Two rows of stacked floats (twisted in opposite directions) give the impression of a braid. After that, it was easy.

I made a single braid since I wasn’t sure if my yarn would last. Of course it did, so I picked up stitches in alternate colours from the CO edge, worked a corrugated rib, then ended with another braid. I couldn’t find a suitable CO – all the stretchy ones made the bottom look sloppy – so I just stitched the live stitches down on the inside, one by one.

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There was another reason for the ribbing: I loathe beanies, but the colourwork on this one was just to gorgeous to resist. With the extra length added by the ribbing, I blocked the hat over a plat to force it into a beret shape. It’s still not as slouchy as I’d love, but a definite improvement on the space helmet innerwear shape!

If there is a next time, I might keep the ribbing the same but increase enough stitches immediately before the colourwork starts for six pattern repeats (instead of the pattern’s five) to get a true slouchy beret. Or knit it with DK yarn, reducing needle size for the ribbing.

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Details
Pattern: Undergrowth from Knitty Winter 2011
Yarn: Nikke-Victor Neo Middle; 100% wool; 108m = 40g; sport weight; 1 skein each in MC and CC. I had small amounts left. Excellent quality yarn!
Needles: 3.5mm circular and dpn
Mods: Added ribbing, separated braids.

Sweet Copper Beret

This is done:

Full small

It was a quick knit, about five days of neglectfully allotted time. I went exactly with the instructions without (!!!!!!) making a swatch. Only because ribbing stretches and brioche stitch is the alpha and omega of stretchiness, and so I was fairly confident that whatever I made would fit.

The key to working the brioche stitch in this pattern is: Do not treat a yo like a usual stitch.

This is quite the opposite of regular knitting; normally, a yo formed in one row is treated as a proper stitch in the next row and included in the stitch counts as well as stitch manipulations that form the pattern. In this case, however, one has to ignore the yos and only deal with them when specified. For eg: “k2, slip yo” actually means “knit one stitch, then push the yo back to access the next stitch, and only then slip the yo”. Once I figured this out, the knitting was easy. Before that, I’ve started this hat a couple of times years ago, but always gave up because I couldn’t produce the required pattern.

The brioche stitch makes it drape really beautifully; unfortunately, the only photos I managed to take of it being worn were at night in yellow light. They were so bad (dingy/yellow/blotchy) that I had to resort to lomo-ization to make them passable. Thank goodness for special effects!

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There is also a rather visible line of error about 2″ away from the edge, where there seems to be a line of plain (non-brioche) knitting. However, my brioche reading skills weren’t too great at that stage so I didn’t dare to unknit it! It’ll remain.

I used about 75% of the skein for the hat, and used up the remainder on a gigantic pompom, which had been my plan all along. None of those fancy pompom makers or painstakingly cut concentric circle templates for me! I wound the yarn around my foot (since my palm was too narrow for the gigantic pompom I wanted) until it ran out. Then I slipped the loops off, and tied them tightly around their ‘waist’ (forming an 8 like structure) with a previously set aside length of yarn. Then I cut the loops of the 8 and shook them out. Finally, I spent a considerable amount of time trimming the pompom to make it spherical, but that was fun!

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Details
Pattern: Sweet Honey Beret, Interweave Knits Winter 2008
Yarn: Madelinetosh DK Twist; 100% merino; 229m = 100g; one skein; “Copper Penny”
Needles: 3.75mm for rib; 5.5mm square for brioche
Mods: None, added pompom

Also, I’m travelling now, so this post is being brought to you by the magic of Scheduled Posting. Replies to questions will appear only when I’m next near an internet connection!

Fresh Faces

This year, I am avoiding maniacal sweater knitting!

But as usual, I abhor the calculations, deliberations and contemplations that precede starting a project. In other words, I’m sticking to my old system of creating a harem – oh that’s so cutesy, let’s call it boringly, but appropriately, a “batch” – of projects, so that for the next few weeks I can just knit, without having to open my stash shelf and glaring at the yarn, willing it to suggest the perfect pattern to show off its colour and texture. I generally buy yarn with specific projects in mind, but by now I have lots of leftovers from big projects, and am itching to put them to good use. Also, after a good old foggy and cold winter, I realized the utter necessity of a large selection of hats, cowls, mitts and socks. Here goes:

Undergrowth: I’d bought one skein of each colour (Nikke Victor Neo-Middle) to test a colourwork idea. The idea crystallized, but the yarn remained unused.  Therefore, a hat. The colours are slightly duller in real life, the pink tending towards maroon and the gold a decided tan. But I like them, especially their muted contrast; it reminds me of old brocade.

Undergrowth - beginning

Only after I uploaded the photo did I realize that this is the exact combination, several shades darker, of my wedding sari.

undergrowth sari

Also, this yarn is padded with a sponge in the middle of the skein!

Yarn sponge

Rosamund’s Cardigan: Still one-armed! I will get to it, I promise. Anyway, in worsted weight an arm should be less than a weekend’s work, correct?

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Also, pretty cables: 

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Boticelli (No pattern, my own): The pocket fronts are done, and the awful lumpiness behind them is the back of the tunic and pocket flaps bunched up on a circular needle.

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Druidess Beret: In generic yarn I found in Delhi, not started yet. After the beret, I’ll attempt a cowl and/or mitts to make a set.

druidess Beret start

Sweet Honey Beret: Lovely Madtosh DK Twist in “Copper Penny” which, however, reminds me instead of young wood and living sap.  I really hope I have enough for a pompom on top. If not, I’ll opt for one in red or green yarn.

sweet copper beginning

So that’s the current batch! Also, I have cunningly chosen projects (most of) which can be worked on the wood/bamboo needles I own. Yes, that’s right, I have more long-distance flights in my near future.

 

Pumpkin Set

A couple of quick projects, gifts for a dear friend:

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Also, the realization that  sometimes you have to join the herd because the herd knows what it’s doing. The Berry Baby Hat has 5747 projects on Ravelry so far. And Saartje’s Booties has 13406.

I had to make some pattern changes to the hat since I used a yarn only half as thick as the one specified. That’s why I ended up with so many leaves. The booties are adorable, but have ELEVENTY MILLION loose ends, so I’m going to look for a more seamless construction if I make them again.

Details
Pattern: Berry Baby Hat and Saartje’s Booties.
Yarn: Lanas Stop York Merino; 100 merino; sport weight; 122m = 50g; Orange and Green colours. I used most of the orange and about half of the green.
Needles: 2.75mm dpn.

First Felt

My first felted project!

Escargot, in Olympus Fleur, 1.3 skeins of the grey, 0.3 skeins of the blue-green. 4mm needles. Made the body one inch longer (to account for felting shrinkage – now I feel that was unneccesary, because it’s a tad too long).

Other mods include an i-cord CO (neat but endless!) and the contrast band made with four rows of stockinette closed into a welt by picking up and knitting together loops from the first CC row with the live stitches of the last CC row.

Things I learnt:

1. Reverse stockinette looks better felted, so make things inside out in the future.

2. Weave in all ends and then cut them before starting to felt.

3. Concentrate on felting the edges, because the centre of the fabric gets man-handled anyway. If the edges don’t felt equally, they look wavy and ugly.

4. Felted fabric can be stretched and shaped while wet.

5. The water does not need to be boiling hot or ice cold – as long as it’s nearer those temperatures than not, and still comfortable to stick your hand into, it’s ok.

The Before and After, with my pincusion for comparison:

Before
After