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:)

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Summer knitting and more

Hi there, I hope you are all doing well. First off, if you got a notification yesterday that a new post had been published and then went to the blog to discover there was none, my apologies. Yesterday I decided that I need to stop procrastinating and that I need to push myself harder and get moving on my project of opening up my own ecommerce website. I decided to try Shopify again and yesterday I posted a test post where I intended to include a product for sale. The item was supposed to show up in my blog post with a “buy” button and all the relative information but after reading the instructions over and over again I still failed to understand how to do this correctly. So the post I published had a picture but no link to actually buy the product so I ended up taking the post off the blog. I have to study this thing more closely.

Opening up a second shop is soooooo time consuming! I have a ton of yarn and stitch markers to put online but it takes a lot of time to photograph everything and then set up online and I’m having a hard time finding the time to do so and also, I admit, I’m feeling a bit under excited – if that is understandable. What I mean is that summer time is typically a slow time for any yarn/fibre related business as the hot weather means that many prefer to not knit/crochet/spin and take time out and this inevitably means less sales. I know this is a fact and that my shop is not the only one to slow down but…..when trying to run a small business the slow times can be difficult to live. But hey, I’ve set myself the objective of either MAKING IT or CLOSING DOWN by the end of this year so if I really want this to work out for me I better stop wallowing and procrastinating and GET MOVING!

Enough about that, lets change the subject:)

So I’ve been doing some knitting and here are some progress pictures.

www.knittinginfrance.com This is my Pebble Beach Shawl by Helen Stewart of Curious Handmade. According to the pattern I’m 30% done. I’m knitting the large size and enjoying it. This is a super easy knit so you can definitely take this to the beach or knit in the car or in front of the tv. I’m not using lace yarn as the pattern calls for but a DK cash’merino yarn I dyed and I think this will look quite nice. This will definitely be a great shawl/scarf for winter as it is thick and soft and super warm. So I’m happy and I’m knitting this at work, in between phone calls as this is a sort of “brainless” knitting so I can put it down easily and pick up where I left off. So perfect for an “at work” knitting project (shh not sure if I should actually reveal this to the world online..)

www.knittinginfrance.com This is my Lady of Lallibroch sock by CC Almond also known as JavaPurl. This is the first sock and I’m using Cascade Heritage yarn. I really feel that the solid color yarn does the pattern justice. A varigated yarn would have taken the attention from the cable or at least made it less spectacular, I feel, so I’m really happy with my choice of yarn. This is an easy pattern also. The cable is a 16 row repeat and it really flows easily. So I’m coming along quite nicely. This is not a “knit at work” pattern but I do knit in front of the tv.

And then I decided to give the “Helix” color knitting method a try. I told you about this in my last post I believe. This prevents the infamous “jog” when knitting stripes. I’m knitting a sock from top down and this will either be a tube sock or an afterthought heel sock for my daughter. So far so good. I’m using some of my hand dyed mini skeins.

www.knittinginfrance.com When I’m further along I’ll show you better pictures of front and back so you can see that the stripes flow without any jogs.

I’ve also done some spinning. I recently purchased a rainbow color pencil roving from yarn company Kauni. I was already working on something else but took a break as soon as I got the roving and started spinning that. I’ve never before spun a pencil roving but wanted to try. Also I’m a fan of Kauni’s rainbow color yarn and I’ve knit things with their yarn in laceweight and this time I’m actually using the pre spun wool in that colorway and spinning it myself. I’m coming up with a heavy laceweight or maybe even fingering once I ply. I’m not sure if I’ll do a 2 ply or a 3 ply. But so far this is coming along nicely and I actually have some more of their pencil roving in my stash that I just might spin up like this too. And I also have some Icelandic unspun pencil roving also that was meant for a sweater but you never know, maybe I’ll spin that as well. But here’s a picture

www.knittinginfrance.com Don’t you just love the colors?

And before I say goodbye for today, let me show you a picture that I’m pretty sure will have you drooling. I had another  happy mail day this week! I recently placed an order online in a Germany online shop that I found when browsing the internet. They carry Lornas laces yarns and it’s been a while since I knit with any of her yarns so I went…a little … crazy!

www.knittinginfrance.com Yebb! I bought 6 skeins!! Of Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Sock yarn! I love it! They dye beautiful yarns. So now I have this beautiful addition to my stash and a head full of sock patterns I can use these for. I’ll share some of the ideas with you later this week. I really should not be buying yarn online when I already have a healthy stash in addition to all my own hand dyed yarns but…. But then again, looking at what others are doing is inspirational and informative so really this is a job related purchase to better myself and improve possibly my yarn dyeing etc. Hm, yes I think that’s it, no need to feel guilty about buying 6 skeins of this gorgeous (not cheap) yarn! I needed this for my business!

Well that’s all for now. I hope you are enjoying your summer and finding time to do some crafting in spite of the warm weather. Thank you for coming by to follow up on my thoughts and works.

Take care:)