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:)

My 3 mystery kal projects

Hi there, I told you a while back that I had broken my promise to myself of not casting on for a new project until I had finished one of my WIPs. And I didn’t even do this as a reasonable person, no I went ahead and joined no less than 3 mystery kals! Two socks and one pair of mittens. And all kals had different beginning dates, the mitten kal had actually started a while back and there were already 3 clues published. One of the sock kals had published its first clue and the second sock well I actually joined BEFORE it began!

So one of the sock kals I’m actually working both socks at the same time using two sets of dpns and that is the Through the Loops Sock kal by Kristin Kapur or TTL Mystery Sock 2016

For this one I’m using a ball of Opal sock yarn. I think I wrongly said it was WYS yarns on Instagram so I must correct that. So yes Opal sock yarn, 4 ply in Burgundy (color 5196).

So far 2 clues have been published.

IMG_4505

Here I am at the end of clue nr 1.

IMG_4539

And this is at the end of clue nr 2 on the first sock. I did have a little doubt about if I was doing this correctly because the pattern seems to swirl around the leg but because this is a Mystery Kal I haven’t seen any pictures yet. I’ll be keeping an eye out for the project pages on Ravelry to see if anyone posts a picture after clue 2 just to be reassured that I’m doing it correctly.

I’m doing the medium size and those will be for my older daughter once they’re done.

My second sock kal is one where a multitude of colours are involved. Well, the pattern actually gives you the option of using either just one colour or, two or three or four. And I think that is really amazing because it gives you so much liberty and the variety of socks that will be made with this same pattern will be so great. I chose to do the 4 colour version.

Here is where I’m at now, this is after clue nr 1 – clue 2 just came out but I haven’t had the time to start that yet.

IMG_4511

This is the Mkal Socks 2016 by Ela M. I’m knitting these one at a time so I’ll finish an entire sock before casting on for the second. I’m also using my Neko needles in size 2.50mm and these socks should be for myself. I’m using hand dyed yarns by myself and it’s a mix of SPARKLE and SOX yarns. So far so good and I look forward to starting work on clue number two.

And then there is the mitten kal which is quite exciting. I’m using yarn from Jamieson and Smith because this is a fair isle project. I did not buy the yarn with this project in mind but I did recently get this yarn and when I was wondering what to use I decided to give this yarn a try. I’m hoping I’ll have enough yarn but if not I’ll just have to buy some more!

IMG_4510

This is at the end of clue nr 1. Last Friday clue nr 4 was published so I really need to get going and knit on those. I’m knitting these one at a time also mainly because I’m afraid I may not have enough yarn for both mittens. This kal is the Enchanting Mystery Kal by Wenche Roald. There will be a total of five clues so this one is almost done!

I’m enjoying working on those and the idea is to work on these mystery kals mostly on the weekend just after the latest clue is published and then work on all the other wips the rest of the week. That may not be possible all the time but I’d like for that to work.

Problem is that I really want/need to cast on for some more socks! Yes I know I’m probably crazy. But I really want to knit a pair of man socks for a nephew of mine and I was just gifted a fabulous sock knitting book yesterday by a famous designer- she herself gifted it to me which makes the book even more special- and so I really feel the urge to immediately cast on for one of her socks. I’m not going to say who she is just yet but lets just say that she contacted me for my non knitting related work and we got talking and she gave me one of her books and she might even design something using my hand dyed yarns!!!!!!!! I’m super excited about that. She is a super star in the knitting world so super busy so I don’t know when or if she’ll actually follow through but in the meantime it has me on cloud 9 and dreaming that maybe I should persevere and continue with my shop!

And before I leave you for today, let me say that I just got a magnificent delivery today from a fabulous company that I ordered from. And as luck would have it the owner had heard of me and she offered to send me some extras for a future giveaway on the blog. Well I got my parcel and I’m over the moon! She sent me 5 items to giveaway!!! And 4 of them are actually marked with my shops name on them! Making them even more fabulous!

So you should continue to follow my blog because this giveaway will be just amazing!

That’s all for today. If you are participating in any mystery kals at the moment I’d love to hear about them and maybe I’ll join yet another kal:)

FOs and new acquisitions

Hi and thank you for stopping by today. I haven’t had a lot of time lately to knit so much, I think. But I still have 3 finished objects that I can share with you today.

So the first one is a hat that is part of a Christmas gift. The yarn is a DK weight 100% merino that I hand dyed in black.

www.knittinginfrance.com     www.knittinginfrance.com  Here you can see front and side view. The stitch pattern is not easy to photograph as the yarn is black but this is a sort of broken rib pattern. It is slightly slouchy but one could also fold the brim to have it snug. I’m quite happy with the outcome. Now I just have to make matching mittens.

The second finished object is also a hat. I also knit it using my hand dyed yarn in a worsted weight. The yarn is a blend of merino, alpaca and silk so it is super soft and slightly fuzzy.

www.knittinginfrance.com Here you see a collage of different views of the hat. The pattern is called Fairy Snowcap and is by Romi Hill. This is a for sale pattern on Ravelry and it really is super nice and a quick knit. The pattern calls for a pompom but I’m leaving it as is without a pompom as this too is a Christmas gift and I’m not sure the recipient would like a pompom.

 

And the third and last finished object for today is a pair of mittens, the Meristem mittens by M Montzka on Ravelry. The pattern is easy to knit and beautiful but I do feel the sizing is small. I knit the larger size and I think I’ll have to gift it to another person than I originally planned on because it’s just too small. That was disappointing but I’m going to try and do a second pair and make it bigger by adding stitches on either side of the lace panel on the back of the hand as well as on the palm side and I’m also going to make it longer.

www.knittinginfrance.com They are almost too small to put on my mitten blockers…. The pattern is gorgeous though so it will be ok.

As for my WIPs, I’m working on 2 pairs of Christmas themed socks for my youngest daughter and a pair of mittens that I have just cast on but might frog back because I’m not sure the pattern is right for me. What I want to share with you is my progress on the Doodler kal – the Westknits mystery kal that is going on now and maybe you are part of too. So I’m a few rows from finishing clue nr 1 – hopefully I’ll do that today and then I’ll go right ahead and do clue nr 2. I don’t want to end up way behind in the kal so I’m going to get some more knitting done on this one.

www.knittinginfrance.com So far so good. I really like the yarns I chose and the construction is interesting. I think I should start weaving in all those ends as I go or else I’ll find myself with an entire shawl and a gazillion ends to weave in which does not sound very enticing.

And then on to new acquisitions. I’m so terrible when it comes to buying patterns and yarn. I just want it ALL! And I know I have enough yarn to last me a few years and I know I have enough patterns to last my entire lifetime but….I keep buying more! This weekend I totally went overboard and bought some hugely exciting stuff but I’m going to hold off from telling you about those until I actually receive them. So today what I can share is a project bag and some yarn.

The project bag is from A Homespun House from Molly who runs an online shop and a podcast by the same name. I enjoy watching her podcast and I’ve loved seeing her bags online and heard about people rave about her bags so I decided to go ahead and buy one for myself. I also actually purchased 2 of her patterns at the same time to be honest:) She has two patterns on her website, a pair of mittens called Foraging and a shawl called Whispering pines and I bought both and those were instant download. And then I purchased one of her project bags. I must admit that I thought, from watching her podcast, that she had a huge selection of bags but when I went online there were only a few models available and all were her sweater size bags. This is the one I got

www.knittinginfrance.com It is very nice BUT not as nice I had imagined it to be. Now this may be not very nice to say but if I’m reviewing a product I have to be honest. So the sewing is very nicely done and the bag is cute but it is not as amazing as I had imagined after seeing her podcast and seeing and reading other blogs and podcasts rave about her products. It is nice and it is medium big but I do think the price was a bit stiff. I have so many gorgeous project bags that are just as nice or even nicer and bigger and their price was less hefty.  Of course, I only just got this bag so I don’t know how it will work in the long run, it might outlive all my other project bags and end up being my absolute favorite but at the moment I’m a tiny bit disappointed but that might be just my fault for imagining this to be something other than it really is. Anyway it is cute and I’m glad I did make the purchase:)

My other acquisition that arrived a few days ago is yarn from Knit Circus Yarns. Earlier this year they launched a Kickstarter campaign for their new studio space and brick and mortar shop and I backed them up and now I have finally received my rewards!

I got a shawl pattern by Jaala Spiro called the Grand Canyon shawl

www.knittinginfrance.com and then I got two skeins of gradient yarns

www.knittinginfrance.com Not sure which one I’ll use to make the shawl with just yet.

I also recently got a package from a company called Yarn Valet and I’ll soon be sharing their items with you AND there will be a giveaway with that so stay tuned!

That’s all for today, thank you again for taking the time to share my knitting and ramblings. I’ll be back soon but until then, enjoy your crafting 🙂

 

 

 

Neons and mittens

Hi there, today Shannon Okey just released her latest book called Aurora Borealis Mittens. I had seen some pictures of the mittens in the book on Facebook and could not resist and so pre-ordered a copy on Ravelry and today it got the actual e-book. And boy is it GORGEOUS! I think I love knitting mittens as much as I love knitting socks.

Now this book has a number of beautiful colour work mittens and most are inspired from an Icelandic pattern book and thus have Icelandic names – which I find kind of nostalgic, me being an Icelandic knitter living far away from home 🙂

I have looked at all the patterns and though I may need to actually knit each and every one of them I’m going to begin with the pattern called Sindri (I love that name by the way). Here’s a picture sindri by shannon okey from blog www.knittinginfrance.com   Don’t you just love them? And if you are wondering, you don’t have to buy the entire book, if you wish you can just purchase an individual pattern. Now for the yarn, I just received some new dyes so now I know exactly how I’m going to dye my yarn. I’m thinking dark grey for the main colour and fuchsia (neon pink) for the contrast colour. I’ve never dyed anything that bright and flashy but these mittens seem to lend themselves well to a flashy colour so that’s it for me.  Do you have a favorite colour combination for colour work such as this? Do you like knitting mittens like me?  So this weekend I have to take some time to choose my base yarn and do the dyeing. I’ll be sure to show you the yarn once it’s dyed and ready:)

That’s all for today so take care until next time 🙂