An FOs, a wip and a future cast on

Hi there, how are you doing today? I hope your weekend was nice. Mine was very relaxed. I got a lot of knitting and spinning done and I’m super happy about that.

But before I dive into the show and tell, I wanted to remind you of my review of the new book Coffee with CC and Dami too that I reviewed last week. You can read the post here if you haven’t already and join in the giveaway and maybe win a copy of the ebook 🙂

Now on to the FOs. The first one is a shawl. I participated in the Snowmelt Mystery kal held by Helen Stewart of the Curious Handmade and I finally finished my shawl last week. I have woven in all the ends and just need to block it because currently it is way smaller (I think) than it should be. Also because there is some lace, this shawl really does have to be blocked. No way around that. I’m very lazy when it comes to blocking so there is no telling when I’ll actually get that done but hopefully sooner rather than later:)

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So this is it unblocked. I really love the outcome. I’m very happy with the colors I dyed up for the shawl and I loved, loved the yarn I chose. I love the yarn so much that I’m dreaming of ordering tons of this non superwash fingering yarn for future garment and shawl knitting. It’s what I call Back to Basics and it’s a 100% merino non superwash.

The other FO for this week was one that almost didn’t make it. And if you follow me on IG you will have seen the pictures and probably already know what I’m on about. For the others, here’s what happened. I decided to join in the Sock Madness competition this year for the second time. The very first round began just over a week ago and it is the qualifying round. That means that you have 14 days to finish a pair of socks. If you finish in time you get to participate and depending on when you finished you will be put into a team with other knitters that knit at your speed so you are paired up with knitters of similar speed. Of course you may be a super speedy knitter but with a very busy life but it doesn’t matter. If that is the case then all the better for you if you get paired up with knitters that are in a similar situation because that increases your chances of making it to the very end.

So I was determined to knit a pair in less than a week. Last year I knit really fast and got into the second to fastest team which may have been an error on my part but hey, I made it to the second to last round so yeah! Anyway this year I may have less time so I was trying to hurry  but not too much. But of course the competition spirit got the better of me.

The first pattern was not a complicated one but a very time consuming one and hard on one’s hands. It also ate up yarn at an alarming speed and very quickly I started panicking and thinking I’d not have enough to finish. I know we are not allowed to do contrasting heels and toes unless the pattern calls for that so I would have to change yarns along the way. I asked how and if that was possible and unfortunately for me I totally misunderstood the answer. So what did I do? Well I cast on for the second sock and knit to the heel, turned the heel on both socks AND THEN changed yarns and knit on merrily without a care in this world. On day 4 I updated my Ravelry project page and sent my email. And went to bed happy as could be.

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And then came the following day! Crashing news! I got heaps of messages on Ravelry both from other participants and the moderators explaining that I had totally misunderstood.

In fact yes I can change yarns if I have to BUT first I have to run out of my original yarn and that was not my case! At first I was in shock! Wow was I not going to qualify for Sock Madness? What to do? After some encouragements from fellow competitors I cut open the toes, ripped back to the heel and then put both socks on a long circular to knit them two at a time using the rest of my yarn. Even though my hands were hurting, I was so determined to make it that I finished in just over a day! And guess what? All this stress and mess could have been totally avoided! I did have plenty of yarn. After finishing I weighed the rest and I had 9gr left! Grrrr

But hey, I finished my socks for the second time and sent in my email on day 6. I don’t know if they will put me in a team that finished on day 4 or on day 6, we’ll see soon enough. Here are my finished and qualified socks.

This qualifying round comes to an end this Thursday I think so maybe round two will begin sometime next week. But until then I’m working on two projects.

My first wip is a secret test knit for a cardigan and I’m not allowed to share any pictures of that. I’m trying to get as much done of that as I can while I wait for round two of Sock Madness to start. It’s quite a simple cardigan in fingering weight yarn. I’m past the armholes and just knitting on in stocking stitch now for 6″ before the stitch pattern changes some. So this is a knit that I can easily pick up and work on anywhere anytime.

My second wip is the Grand Central Socks by Mina Philipp and they are part of her New York Sock collection. I have cast on for them using my Zen Garden yarn that I bought last time I was in Iceland. I’m past the heel on sock one and I’m knitting them on my Hiya Hiya Sharp 9″ circulars.

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It is a fun stitch pattern and easily memorized making this a fun and easy knit.

I said I had done lots of spinning this past weekend and I did. I have been doing a sweater spin. I decided to join Sue of Legazy Fibre Arts and Andi of Andre Sue Knits on their sweater spin. It is the first time  I have ever spun for a particular project and the first time ever that I spin so much for a single project. I was not even sure I would make it to be honest.

Ì chose a 50/50 merino  and silk blend that I have spun as is, that is undyed, and now I have 5 skeins of that which together weigh 635 gr for about 1784 meters. That’s about a fingering weight yarn.

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I’m really happy with the outcome. The yarn is quite consistent and looks good. I have washed it now and it is relaxed and the twist is correct so I think it will knit up nicely.

Next stage is to dye the yarn. I haven’t chosen my color yet. Dyeing all this yarn which is also hand spun and has cost me so many hours of work, is a little overwhelming. I have to get it right! So I’m hesitating between grey? Blues? Maybe a petrol/denim blue? Or should I do something subtle with a little bit of speckles? Or should I just leave the yarn undyed? What do you think?

And then I need to find a pattern. I have been thinking of this the entire time I have been spinning. I still have some fibre left so if I need more yardage I can spin some more before going to the dye pot. Here are the patterns I have been and still am, thinking about and maybe you can help me decide.

The Boxy Sweater by Joji Locatelli – This is a simple sweater to knit I think and Sue is knitting this one with her hand spun. This was the very first pattern I thought of but I’m not so sure any more.

Sammal cardigan by Joji Locatelli – this is a brand new pattern and currently is at the top of my list. I like the fact that it is a cardigan as I use cardigans much more than sweaters. I like the fact that it has all over patterning. As my yarn is hand spun it is not as perfectly smooth as mill spun yarn and so maybe an all over stitch pattern is better suited? Also I have enough yardage for my size.

Boathouse by Alicia Plummer. I really love her designs and this  is a simple short sleeved sweater/t shirt. I could of course knit longer sleeves. It has stripes and I could dye one of the skeins in a contrasting color for this.

Japan Sleeves by Joji Locatelli. I have admired this design for a long time and I purchased the pattern a while back. This also would require two colors but that’s fine. I’m a little intimidated by the lace panel on the sleeves but otherwise I think it is not a very complicated knit.

Tau by Melanie Berg. This is a beautiful cardigan with a mix of patterning and stocking stitch. I definitely want to knit this some time. Maybe with this yarn?

Threshold by Melanie Berg. This is a sweater with some patterning on the front. As always it’s a gorgeous design and I’m really tempted.

That’s a lot to choose from and of course there are millions more. I already own all of these patterns and a ton more in my Ravelry library. I feel that I have to choose something really special because this yarn is so special. My first ever hand spun and hand knit adult size garment! I’d love to hear your thoughts on the pattern choices I have mentioned. And if you have knit any of those I’d love to hear your thoughts on the pattern and the finished garment. Or if you have another pattern to suggest? If you have knit a garment with your handspun; do tell and share with us.

That’s all for today. Thank you for stopping by and spending some of your precious time with me. Do participate in the giveaway for CC’s ebook (I will draw for a winner on Friday) and share your thoughts on my future handspun sweater.

Until next time; take care and enjoy your knitting 🙂

 

My big March plans

Hi there how are you today? it’s raining cats and dogs here in Normandy this morning. It almost feels like winter is coming back and they have predicted this kind of weather for the rest of the week I think. Funny how gloomy weather can sometimes affect your mood at least on weekdays. Because yesterday, Sunday, it was the same and I wasn’t bothered at all! In fact I spent almost the entire day knitting! Maybe a little too much time to be quite honest because my hands felt a bit sore by the time I went to bed.

But March is a very heavily busy month knitwise. It hadn’t started  out as such but as we got closer to the end of February, beginning of March the projects just piled on.

But before I share those with you let me show you my two Fos.

First off is a pair of socks that I was test knitting for my friend and designer Dana Gervais. The pattern is called Good Karma and will be a for sale pattern on Ravelry in the near future.

The pattern is fun to knit and quite intuitive. It’s a mirrored pattern which means that the pattern is placed differently on each sock so that they mirror each other. I managed to knit them quite quickly as I had big plans coming up and absolutely wanted and needed to get them done in time.

I used one of my newer bases which I call POP. It’s a merino/donegal nepp tweed yarn. And what is especially fun with this tweed yarn is that the nepps are multi colored instead of just plain black as usually. I have knit socks out of this yarn before and I really love both knitting with it and the finished project. So here are some pictures of my finished socks.

 

They look really nice even if I say so myself! I’m taking a break from test knitting socks this month due to my heavy workload but I really look forward to doing it again.

My second finished object is a shawl that I started on January 1st 2017. This was part of the brioche challenge hosted by Louise Tilbrook Designs. I did choose a pattern that was not all brioche thinking it would go quicker although just from looking at the pattern pictures, I could see that it is quite big. Well, I got sidetracked needless to say and I only just finished last week. I knit this using two of my yarns in my SOX base and two other yarns. And it is huge! I haven’t blocked the shawl yet and frankly I don’t know if I will. Maybe I’ll just lightly steam block it before giving it away because yes I’m going to gift it to someone special. Shh not saying just in case she reads my blog.

The shawl I’m babbling about is the Briochealicious shawl by Andrea Mowry. It is a mix of brioche and garter stitch so quite a relaxing knit and I really did enjoy knitting on it. I can even see myself knitting a second one that I would keep. But here’s a picture – although you can’t see it in its entirety because of the size.

Yes that’s me modelling the shawl 🙂

And now onto current works in progress. I can show you two but one is a secret test knit. I was contacted by a relatively new designer that I love. I have knit one of her sweaters, the Kitsune sweater. And I already have a cardigan of hers on the needles although I’m still at the very beginning there. Well so she contacted me and asked I was willing to test knit a new cardigan and once I saw the picture there was no turning back! So of course I said yes please! It is gorgeous! However she has asked us test knitters not to share any pictures until the pattern has been released so I won’t be able to show you anything for the moment. I’m knitting it on my SPARKLES base in a teal colorway and I think it will be amazing. I have one month to finish so that is part of the reason why I say March is a heavily busy knit month.

The first wip I can share, is the Snowmelt shawl by Helen Stewart of the Curious Handmade. This is a mystery kal and the last clue came out last Thursday. I have begun knitting on that clue but I won’t be able to continue until I finish my all consuming wip that I’ll tell you all about in a moment. So I’m knitting this shawl out of a new base of mine that I call Back to Basics. It’s a non superwash merino fingering yarn and it is gorgeous. I was hesitant to order non superwash fingering but I do not regret it. In fact I want to order much more. I love the fact that non superwash items do not grow so I think it will be perfect for garment knitting and I have a ton of sweaters and cardigans I want to knit using this base. But back to the shawl. I had heard Helen’s recommendations on the yarn before hand and so I dyed up 3 skeins just for this project and I’m really happy with the outcome and how they work together. This is a half pi shawl and I think it is the first time I knit one of those or if I have before, then it was ages ago because I don’t remember it. Here’s a picture of where I’m at now – I do want to finish soon so I can enter it into the FO thread in her Ravelry group for a giveaway.

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Snowmelt shawl by Helen Stewart of Curious Handmade knit in Back to Basics by Knitting in France

I’m really happy with my choice of colors and I look forward to finishing the shawl.

And now onto the all consuming wip! I told you last time, I think, that I was participating in the Sock Madness competition for the second time this year. Well it has just began. The first pattern was released late Thursday night so I only got to cast on and do one cuff on that very first day but I have been knitting on this non stop since then. The first round is a qualifying round and we have 14 days to finish the pair. The faster you finish the better of course and that will also determine in which team you end up. The teams are composed of knitters that knit at similar speeds so although there are hundreds of knitters partaking in the competition you are only every competing against the members of your team so people of similar speed. That is great because it gives everyone a chance to participate. Last year I ended up in the second to fastest team I think which was quite stressful and makes me think maybe I should not try so hard to finish asap this time around but I can’t help myself. I really want to finish them at lightning speed and also when I browse the chatter and FO threads I realise that there are so many knitters that either are way speedier knitters than I am or have way more time because I’m not the fastes. Of course I’m not way behind either.

This first pattern, Twisted Madness, is not a complicated one but it is very time consuming and hard on the hands because it is basically an all over cable pattern. That makes progress slow and it just eats up yarn. There are minimum requirements so each time I have to knit the socks to my size or for my oldest to meet those and for this first pair one skein of fingering yarn is not enough. After knitting to the heel on the first sock I was seriously worried so one of the moderators told me to cast on for the second one and knit to the same place and then make a decision on if I had enough to finish or if I should change yarns. And so I did, I knit the second sock to the heel turn and then decided to turn the heel on both socks in my current yarn. After that I only had 40 gr left and I’m pretty sure I would not have had enough to finish and as we are not allowed to do contrasting heels, toes and cuffs I could not knit to the toe and then change yarns so I thought after the heel would be good spot to change.

I hesitated between yarns. My yarn was a turquoise with some yellow and I had another skein in only turquoise but of course not the exact same shade and I also had a skein of yellow also not the same shade. Finally I went with the yellow and I think my socks will look just fine when they are done.

This is where I’m at now:

 

This stitch pattern is basically a left leaning cable over 2 stitches and produces this nice pattern that you can  see close up on the picture on the right. What do you think about my choice of second color for the socks? I think they will be ok. When worn, people will see a yellow sock with a turquoise and yellow heel so I’m sure it will be ok.

So after I had turned the heel on both socks I decided to knit them taat magic loop. I’ll be knitting on them this afternoon but I’m taking a little break this morning and going to knit on my Snowmelt shawl and spin a little just to give my hands a little time off from the pattern. I chose to knit them on a long circular needle from the get go because just seeing the stitch pattern I realised that knitting them on a 9″ circular would be too hard on my hands.

So I need to finish these asap to qualify of course but also so that I have more time in between rounds so that I can finish my Snowmelt and make good progress on my test knit cardigan. Once the two weeks of the qualifying round are up, the organizers need a few days to set up the teams and so I have some time to finish other things. Each round thereafter is also 14 days but the objective is to always finish way before the time limit. So quite a busy month ahead. Are you also participating in Sock Madness this year? I’d love to know if you are so I can follow your progress on social media.

So planning wise the month of March is 90% Sock Madness and then my test knit cardigan. But I did fall for the Stephen West Mkal temptation and sign up for the Marled Magic Mystery Kal The first clue came out last Friday and I haven’t had the time to start and  realistically I may not be able to until the kal is actually over but anyway. I fell for this because he recommended that one use mohair yarn – this is a shawl knit holding two fingering weight yarns together and either use one constant color and only change on of the yarns throughout or to change both all the time. I had a few skeins of mohair/silk yarn in my stash of undyed yarns and I really don’t like the fuzziness of mohair and haven’t dyed or sold much of this yarn and when I saw the pattern and yarn recommendations I thought “it’s now or never”. Either I do this or these skeins will stay in my stash forever. And so I dyed all the skeins, 8 of them I think in a very pale mint green and then I went looking in my stash and my shop yarns for colors that could work with it and I’ve come up with a surprising palette. Actually very different from the colors I’m usually drawn to so I don’t even know if I’ll actually wear the shawl once it’s done. I might give it to someone or maybe I’ll find myself in love with all those new colors. Who knows!

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Only one of these yarns is not mine and I might just change it out for one of my own to make this a 100% Knitting in France shawl. Are you doing the mkal? I’d love to see your yarn choices and see your progress as I wait to be able to start mine.

Well, that’s all for now I think. I’ll be back this Thursday with a Maker of the Month feature and a giveaway so stay tuned for that. Until then, have a wonderful week and happy knitting 🙂