Monday, May 30, 2011

Let the sun breathe us in

Three years ago, my sister was expecting twins and I made two little cardigans for them. She had the baby knits out the other day, as she is getting things ready for the new baby on the way.
There's no immediate need to knit for the new one, as there are doubles waiting for him or her in a couple of sizes. But of course, when the time is right I will make something special for my new family member.

It was perfect timing to be reminded of those cheezels as I was just starting/planning another cardigan for a friend's baby. I had been thinking of adding a couple of grey stripes, but realised just in time that that could look a bit school-ish in maroon and grey. I think this motif, borrowed from a pattern called Nieman, worked much better.
I also reused Carole Barenys' seamless top-down raglan pattern. I doubt I'll ever knit a seamed baby garment again. This was for a boy who's a little bigger than a newborn, so I switched to 5 ply wool (Heirloom Heatherwood, which is not really just maroon, it has blue and red in it, really lovely stuff + a little bit of some grey vintage stuff) with 3.75mm needles, and added a couple of stitches too. I also did the buttonholes every 10 ridges instead of 12 - when you omit the garter ridges in the pattern, I don't think it needs as many rows in length (the ridges would make it pull up a bit).
These last two pictures were taken before I washed it. It's amazing how much better knits look after being washed (in this case soaked for a while with a little hair conditioner in with the wool wash) and laid out nicely to dry. I suppose this IS blocking, though I can't bring myself to call it that, when it's the same thing I do when I wash and dry anything handknit or delicate. In my mind, blocking involves a special effort with pinning and/or wires.
For the colourwork rows, I consciously kept things *really* loose, and for the first time managed to avoid the pulling-in effect. Very happy about that.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

now's no time to hesitate

The other day I took some more items in to the Craft ACT shop. They regularly stock my pears and bowls there, and they sell slowly but reasonably steadily, which is fine with me. It might be hard to keep up with faster sales, and I like knowing that they are there for people to see, even if they don't always buy.

However, I have been wanting to develop another product I could sell there, and thought that this necklace might be a good contender.

A while ago I made another one to send to my aunt. Here they are posing together.

For us sort of quiet types it can be hard to put yourself out there. I knew that they are selective about what they stock - and I'm cool with that of course. I happened to be wearing the necklace (not planned on this occasion, though I had worn it before hoping it would spark a conversation) and as our business was being concluded, I pushed myself to say 'have you seen my necklace? I'd like to show it to you as a possible item to sell'.

And then, as I fumbled with the clasp, the bloody thing fell right off my neck!

A jump ring had come unattached from the felt at the side.

I had no option but to plough on, 'ah well of course it is a prototype, and I plan to use sterling silver findings, I have some oxidised silver chain at home which is really nice, anyway what do you think?'

Talk about an uncomfortable silence. To be honest, the reaction ended up being pretty kind, though not exactly enthusiastic.

It actually wasn't really until I got home, pulled the wretched thing out of my bag and replayed the experience in my head, that I realised just how mortified I was. What awful timing. How hard it will be to try again.
J necklace

The one I made for my aunt used oxidised sterling silver chain which I bought on etsy. Aunty, I do hope it is standing up to a bit of wear but if it falls apart, call me!

Monday, May 09, 2011

sing ditties to thee

This is Laura Chau's Bellevue cardigan, knit in Patonyle.
The idea was this would be done before summer and perfect for the air-conditioned office. However other projects intervened, as they always do, and it was only finished a few weeks ago. I've worn it a couple of times but now it is a bit cold for short sleeves. I quite like a short-sleeved cardigan over a sleeveless top on more moderate summer days or in air-conditioning. For me, this one in 4 ply wool is about the limit of warmth for a knit with short sleeves - though I may be able to layer it over a long sleeved t-shirt.

I think I knit the smallest size, but I added length, and the four 50g balls that I thought would be plenty wasn't quite enough. I had done all but the garter stitch edging when I had to put the call out for a bit more from some kind knitter. And in the end, if hadn't wanted a couple of extra rows on the edging, what I had left might have just about made it.

In the photo below, you may be able to see where the dyelot changes in the middle of neck edging. I was stubborn and tried to finish with the wool I had, when I knew I should have started the edging with the new ball. I had two different (neither matching) dyelots to choose from. I looked at them carefully under my daylight lamp and couldn't discern a difference. It's not at all visible in most lights, just bright sunlight, apparently.
bellevue back_2
Part of the reason I wanted a slightly wider band/edging was because I got a bit too enthusiastic with shoulder decreasing, so the shoulders were a couple of stitches narrower than they should have been.

One of these days I might knit a pattern in separate pieces (I know sometimes seams make for good structure - and a place to hide ends), but knitting seamlesssly in one piece is just so cool. I've done top-down raglans before but nothing bottom-up. The way the shoulders come together is really clever - great pattern all round.
bellevue back
The jury is still out on the Patonyle though. It's a sock wool with nylon, so it should wear well, but it's just so soft and went a little fuzzy as soon as I wore it. It's such an old favourite wool for Australian knitters though, that I have some faith it will be alright. I do have a clothes shaver (lint remover) but hope I don't have to do that too much.

The colour is funny - for all the years it's been sitting in the stash I thought it was really a grey, just a little greenish. But now it is in my wardrobe, it really doesn't look to me like a grey at all, more like a greyish olive. Luckily that works well for me.

Monday, May 02, 2011

You're in a story I heard somebody told

These pillowslips were a recent present from Mum. She made them of course, and the fancy plaited bit at the end is inspired by something in a really cool book which my sister and I bought for her for Christmas. (What goes around, comes around, right?)
They are fraternal twins - one dark grey and one lighter (the different sides of the fabric). And I think they are far too nice to sleep/drool on, at least for a while - even though the fabric is really nice and soft - so the spare pillows are acting as couch cushions for the moment.