Knitting and audio books

Hi there, how are you? I hope you are doing good and enjoying your week. I’m doing fine. Christmas is getting closer and last weekend I did some cookie baking with my kids and that really put us in the Christmas spirit:) Soon we’ll be putting up our decorations and purchasing gifts. In Iceland, or at least in my family, we put up our tree on the 23rd of December and we take it down on January 6 which is the end of Christmas in Iceland. Here in France people put their decorations up earlier and I think we’ll be decorating our home this coming weekend. How about you? Do you celebrate Christmas and if yes, have you already put up your tree and decorations?

Last week we had an internet outage for two days. No internet is a total catastrophe! Not only does it mean that I cannot work as my regular job depends on an internet connexion but it also means no home phone, no tv and of course no watching YouTube or anything else! So what is a knitter to do? Well, lucky for me I have an Audible account. I have bought a few books but haven’t listened to a lot of them. As I was unable to work for two days I did get some time to knit and knitting in silence is not my thing, at least not for a long time. And so I was so happy to have my Audible account and I took the opportunity to finish one book I had been listening to and to start a new one and I really got into them. I find that I equally enjoy knitting while listening to a good book as I do while watching a podcast or tv series.

Do you listen to audio books? I like mystery and police thrillers but for audio books I see that I also like fiction. So far I have listened to the following books/

Precious Victims by Don W. Weber – this is based on a true criminal case I believe and was quite captivating.

Still Alice by Lisa Genova – this is a fiction book about a young woman that suffers from Alzheimers. This was a really poignant story and I felt really touched as my grandmother suffers from age related dementia and in some aspects that resembles Alzheimers and so this book really touched me.

The amazing Mrs Polifax by Dorothy Gilman – this is a mystery that in some aspects makes me think of an Agatha Christie mystery in the fact that the hero is Mrs Polifax, an elderly sleuth and her adventures.

And the book I started last week and am still listening to is The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty –  this is a fiction with some crime mystery also. The author is Australian and the actor who reads is also Australian and I really love the exotic accent. This is a wonderful book that talks about a few women who’s lives intertwine at a critical moment in their lives. I have about 3h left and I’m really enjoying this.

If you enjoy audio books maybe you will enjoy one those books too. Also if you have any suggestions for me, I’d love to hear about the books that you most enjoy.

On to knitting. So last week I shared with you a color work cowl that I knit. It was the Boreal Forest cowl by Renée Callahan and it was part of this years Knitvent from Helen Stewart of the Curious Handmade podcast. Last week we got the fourth pattern of Knitvent and it was the hat to go with the cowl so of course I cast on for that and I have finished, twice really because after knitting the hat once, I wasn’t happy with the results so I ripped most of it out and knit it again. Unfortunately I’m still not satisfied. For some reason the hat is too small, too shallow actually. It’s written in one size with a change of needle size to knit either the child or adult version. I did use the correct needle size for the adult version and my tension was good and yet it still is super small. I like my hats to cover my ears and this one only covers the top of the ears. I think I will grow a little with some aggressive blocking. Or at least I hope so. Here’s a picture:

boreal-forest-hatIt’s somewhat blown out but you get the picture I hope.

I’m still working on the color work mittens, the Owl ones and I hope to finish them this week. My daughter is super excited about those and can’t wait to use them.

And then there is the Project Peace. This is a free pattern on Ravelry meant for us to knit while reflecting on world peace. Thousands of people have joined and I decided to do so as well. This is a slipped stitched patterned cowl and the 4 round pattern is repeated 21 times so the idea is to knit one pattern repeat a day. Sometimes I don’t have the time and then I knit two repeats the following day and currently I’m on time. The yarn I’m using is one I got in my Knitting in France Birthday Game swap this year. It’s a new to me yarn and a very luscious blend at that. It’s from Expression Fiber Arts and the colorway is called June Alexandrite. Its a superwash merino and silk in a singles base. It feels super soft and the colour is really intense. Here are some pictures.

Last week I told you about a sock I was test knitting for designer Dana Gervais. Well she published the pattern on Ravelry yesterday so now I can share that with you. It is a very simple slipped stitch color work pattern. The sock looks super complicated but it’s actually deceptively simple to do. I really enjoyed knitting this and I highly recommend this pattern for anyone wanting to try some fun color work.

The pattern is called Beach Ball Socks and you can find this on Ravelry. I knit this using my bronze sparkle yarn and I really love the outcome. I have only finished one sock… I got caught up in all the other knitting projects… but I have cast on for sock number two and hope to finish it soon. Here are some pictures:

The newest project I’m working on this week is a hat, the Maryam hat by Mina Philipp of the Knitting Expat. I’m knitting it in my non superwash BFL Aran weight yarn. I just cast on last night so I’m not far yet but here’s a little picture of my progress so far:

maryam-hatThis is a fun pattern with some cables and as it’s Aran weight I think it will be done quickly.

This is about all I think I wanted to share with you this week. I do have plans to cast on for a pair of Aran weight mittens, maybe the Bella mittens – a free pattern on Ravelry. I think I might do some Christmas gift knitting after all….

I hope you have a wonderful week with lots of knitting time because that is just the best! Until next time, take care 🙂

Knitting Fair Isle

Hi there, thank you for coming back and sharing some of your time with me this weekend. Today I wanted to share with you two projects that I’m currently working on and those are both colourwork projects.

The first one is an Aran weight cowl called the Boreal Forest cowl by designer Renée Callahan of East London Knits. This pattern is part of the Knitvent collection by Helen Stewart of Curious Handmade. Helen releases a collection of accessories every year leading up to Christmas where subscribers get one pattern a week for 6 weeks and this year for the first time she has invited a second designer to participate in her collection. I’m a fan of Renée’s work and so when I saw the pattern I knew I had to find the yarn and cast on.

I’m of course using my own Aran weight yarn. I had these all dyed up so that was good. I did hesitate to use hand spun for one of the colours but finally decided against it because I didn’t have the exact same thickness on hand.

This pattern uses the fair isle technique, two colours per round and it is a great pattern to work fair isle for the first time. I finished this in no time.

boreal-forest

This pattern uses 3 colours and because of the thickness of the yarn this knits up quite quickly. I’m working on my fair isle technique and trying to knit this with one yarn in each hand and I feel I’m getting better at that, slowly but surely. I think that if you are not used to colour work but want to try it, this would be a good pattern to start out with. The pattern is fairly simple and because it’s knit in Aran weight it knits up quicker than if it were fingering for example.

The other colour work pattern I’m working on are the O.W.L  mittens, a Harry Potter inspired pattern that I’m knitting for my older daughter. This is a much more complicated pattern because the pattern is more complex and cannot be memorised (I think). Also it’s knit in fingering weight so progress is slow. Again I’m using my own yarn in colours my daughter chose. This project requires concentration and at the moment I feel that each round takes a lot of time. Maybe because I’m so worried that I’m holding the yarn too tight and that the fabric will pucker. So I’m stopping frequently to pull on the knit and make sure that my floats are just right. I’ve almost been 

finished one mitten.

The back of the hand has an all over owls on a branch pattern and the palm side has spells written out. I’ve just put the thumb stitches on hold.

This project leads me to tell you about one of the podcasts that I follow and enjoy immensely. It’s a podcast called Fruity Knitting and you can find it on YouTube. If you are not familiar with this podcast I recommend it wholeheartedly. It is hosted by a lovely Australian couple living in Frankfurt, Germany. Andrea, the wife, is an expert knitter with a passion for fair isle and intarsia. Andrew, the husband, is a new knitter who is consistently expanding his skills. It is very fun to see sort of the two extremes in the same podcast. It is fun to see how Andrew progresses and his view of things as a new knitter and Andrea is just an amazing inspiration. She knits such intricate things. Their podcast is unlike any other that I follow and I think theirs is the most educational one. So if you are not yet a subscriber to their show, I highly recommend you check them out.

In their latest episode, Andrea does a tutorial on fair isle knitting in the flat and how she works with one yarn in each hand and how she catches her floats was a revelation to me. I just watched it once and I’m going to watch it again because her technique is awesome and she makes it look super simple. If I’m able to replicate her way of knitting fair isle my two fair isle projects will not only look better but be even more enjoyable to knit I think. If you are thinking of doing a fair isle project and like me, are not an expert, you can definitely benefit from watching Andrea’s tutorial so here is a link

 https://youtu.be/k1eo0VjO_Ik?t=20m14s

Do you knit fair isle or intarsia? I have knit fair isle before but I have never done intarsia and that still intimidates me. Andrea does make it look easy but I’m not yet convinced. If you have any colour work projects you’d like to share with me, I’d love to see a picture in a comment below:)

That’s all for today. Have a wonderful weekend and enjoy your knitting 🙂

 

This and that

Hi there how are you today? I hope you are doing good and enjoying this new week. Here in Normandy, France the weather is getting colder every day and we have had a lot of strong winds and rain. Just an all over “stay inside and knit” weather. And according to the weatherman, that’s what we will be getting all week long. I do find bad weather a bit depressing, especially when I’m working. I don’t mind so much on a Sunday when bad weather is the perfect “excuse” to just cozy up in a comfortable chair and knit all day long. I never get enough of those days.

Christmas is not far off now and we are seeing Christmas decorations being put up in the streets and my youngest is already counting down the days till Christmas. So far I have not done any Christmas gift knitting and I don’t think I will. I did knit a lot for last Christmas where I gave hat and mittens to a number of my family members. It wasn’t stressful or anything but this year I just don’t feel like it. Also I feel I just have so many things already on my needles that I really need to work on and most of those are either for myself or my kids. What about you? Are you doing Christmas gift knitting? If yes, what type of projects are you knitting or what type of projects do you usually knit as gifts? I’d love to hear from you if you care to share by leaving a comment below.

I have done lots of knitting this past week I think. I finished a pair of socks that I was test knitting and I have cast on for the second pair of test knit socks. I’m at the gusset on the first sock of this second pair. It is a two colour, slip stitch pattern and it goes quite fast but it does require some attention so I can only knit on this in the evening or weekends. It’s not the type of knitting I can do in between phone calls and just put down and pick up without further thought. Once the designer publishes her patterns I’ll be sharing the pictures with you here.

I have one finished object to share with you and that is a hat. I based it somewhat on the Sock Head Hat  but I did cast on fewer stitches and the cuff/ribbing is not as long. Also I used a colour work technique called Helix knitting. I used one colour, silver, for the ribbing and then 4 colours for the main body of the hat. To do Helix knitting you need to divide the number of stitches with the number of colours you are going to use. In my case I used 4 colours and that meant knitting each row with 4 different colours so to avoid a huge yarn tangle, one has to manage the balls of yarns and I used to move them around in the order I was using them and that worked very well. When doing Helix knitting, it is very important NOT to cross the yarns, that is when you leave one colour and pick up the next you do NOT twist the two yarns together as one would do in intarsia for example. You just have to leave the old yarn tail and pick up the new.

I find this technique really amazing because although your work is divided into sections of colour, when you look at your knitting, you could never guess it. This produces a striping effect with no jogs. What Helix knitting is, is in fact a technique that produces a spiral  of colour and I have some pictures to show you that will better explain what I mean.

helix-hat This is my finished hat. Like I said above, I used 4 colours so you see a pattern repeat of 4 colour stripes. On the very first row after the ribbing you can see the beginning of the spiral, you have some yellow and then some red.

helix-hat-with-yarnHere you can see the work from the “knitters perspective” and you can see that I’m knitting with all four colours each round.

helix-hat-yarn

I kept my yarns in a tote next to me and moved each ball away from me once I was finished knitting that particular colour and that helped me avoid a huge yarn tangle.

helix-hat-topIf you look at the crown of my hat you can clearly see the spiralling, especially apparent if you follow the red yarn.

I have seen this used in socks and I did cast on for a pair once but I think I never finished. It is a fun technique and I recommend you give it a go. Next time though, I will use fewer colours, I think 3 is a good number but then that is always going to be personal preference depending on what you are knitting and the stripe pattern you are looking for. The yarn I used for this was my Merino Light base, that is a merino singles yarn which is super soft and a joy to knit.

I’m also knitting on a simple brioche cowl. I dyed up a skein of this new base yarn that I’m trying out. It is a luxurious blend of 50/50 merino and silk. So the yarn is super soft to the touch and has a gorgeous shine to it. It is in fingering weight 400 meters per 100 gr. I dyed this up mostly grey but with a small section of the skein in gold.

Here you can see how the skein was mostly grey with just a small gold section. I didn’t want to knit this into a pair of socks, I felt it was too beautiful/precious a blend for that. I had already started on my Helix hat so I decided on doing a cowl. I didn’t have a pattern so I cast on a random number of stitches and decided I’d do this in brioche. Now I think I should have cast on fewer stitches as this is going to be quite large but not large enough for me to wrap it around my neck twice.

What was amazing to me was/is how this yarn knits up in brioche at this number of stitches. I had thought that because the gold colour was only on a small section of the skein, it would produce maybe a sort of spiralling block of colour but in fact it has created an overall pattern and not only that, but the pattern changes over the length of the cowl. I think that is really cool.

After having knit about half the yarn and realising that it was probably too large for just one wrap and not enough for two wraps, I decided I would be a good idea to decrease the stitch number and thus the cowl would be larger at the bottom hugging my shoulders and then decrease to create the neck part of the cowl which would be hugging the neck. I got out my brioche book “Knitting Fresh Brioche” by Nancy Merchant and found out how to do decreases. There were two for decreasing two stitches at a time, one right leaning and one left leaning. I followed the instructions and the decrease round itself looked fine but on the next round, where the decrease was, the stitches would become elongated and the fabric holey. It didn’t look good. So next time I did the other decrease and the same thing happened. I still continued thinking I could fix the holes afterwards, do some stitching somehow and I actually knit on for hours almost running out of yarn.  But when I looked at the cowl, all I could see were the ugly decreases. And I thought that was just no good. I was using a gorgeous yarn and the dye work was perfect and yet the only thing I saw were the flaws and I just knew I would never enjoy wearing this like this and so I decided I had to rip back. Ripping back brioche is not to be taken lightly. I decided this last night but I waited until this morning to actually rip back. Here you can see the cowl before the ripping back.

brioche-with-holes

I love the pattern created by the small gold section in the yarn. And here towards the top of the cowl/picture you can see the decreases and how they looked.

brioche-close-upAnd this is a close up and it may not look too catastrophic like this but once held up, the weight of the fabric really pulled on those stitches making the holes more apparent.

So this morning I again consulted my brioche book on how to rip back and off I went. I ripped to one row less than I wanted to rip back and I then ripped the last row slowly, a stitch at a time and picked up the stitch with a much smaller needle than I was using. That made the picking up so much easier and it really was a breeze.

But I did rip back almost half of my work and that is always sad, I always feel like I have lost so much precious knitting time but I really shouldn’t. After all I do love knitting so nothing to regret there, and I will end up with an item I will actually like and wear and that is most important. I did pause to think if I should just rip everything back and start all over again and cast on fewer stitches but decided against it. So I’m just going to continue as I was and we’ll see how it ends up being.

brioche-after-ripping-back

And here is my cowl this morning after the ripping back.

I have also started on my next Harry Potter themed knit for my oldest. If you follow my blog regularly you will know that she is a Harry Potter fan and that she asked me to knit her a large number of Harry Potter themed accessories and sweaters. So far I have done one scarf, a pair of socks and a pair of fingerless mitts. Now I have begun a pair of fair isle mittens. The pattern is called Owl Mittens by Celeste Young and can be found in the Unofficial Harry Potter Knits magazine from Interview Press.

I’m using my own yarn in my SOX base, the red/burgundy I dyed and the white is just undyed yarn. I’m not far along but so far I like it. I do think this will take a lot of time to complete because of the patterning all over. I’m trying to relax as I knit the fair isle so that the floats stay relaxed in the back. I really hate it when the fabric is all puckered up and tight. But so far so good and my daughter loves it and can’t wait for me to finish, especially now that the weather has really cooled down. Here are some pictures for you.

owl-mit-beginning

 

This is the back of the hand and this is a lot of owls on branches, there  will be three repeats of the owl pattern, each pattern repeat is unique.

owl-mit-backThis is the palm side of the mitt and here you have spells written out. I need to be careful with my tension here also because if it is too tight, the stitches will be too small and the words won’t be clearly written out.

So this is a challenging and time consuming knit that I will work on when not doing anything else and I think I will probably need  quite some time to finish but they will be gorgeous once done.

That’s about all for today I think. This week I’ll continue to work on my test knit socks, my brioche cowl and the Harry Potter mitts. I’ll also be going to an interview with a job counsellor to help me redo my resume and maybe get a clearer picture of what types of jobs I can apply for. I do have a full time job at the moment but I work from home and I have been doing that for a number of years and I feel that a change is needed and I’d love to work outside of my home and have real colleagues again. Maybe 2017 will be a year of change for me. You never know.

Thank you for stopping by today and spending some of your precious time with me. I’ll be back next week and until then take care and enjoy your knitting:)