Here’s taking a flying leap into the new year and January 2018!
By now, I think my readers will have gathered that I always have something on the needles and anyone who knows and/or understands knitters will also know that the vast majority have UFOs (unfinished objects), WIPs (works in progress) and hopefully, at some point, FOs (finished objects)!! A new year is a new start and a very good opportunity to get a touch of castonitis – the condition where a number of projects appeal and are cast on and work is intense as long as the project is shiny and new. Some projects move on quickly or have a deadline, and others, well, others can linger by the wayside a little (or more). Let us hope that most will reach completion at some point or else be unravelled (frogged, in knitspeak) and the yarn re-used. But I digress.
For once, I had little Christmas knitting in 2017. A few pairs of socks made good and fairly mindless knitting, partly because the Nutkin pattern I introduced a few posts ago, which is lovely, kept turning out too big for me. That is, I kept getting distracted and making the whole thing too long so I had to watch my step (literally!) and manage a pair that are more suited to my short, broad feet. Finally, success!
And of course, the Fireside cowl (Ysolda Teague’s Fraxinus) was finished, too – I love this wool-silk blend of fiery colours which suits the pattern so well. Gorgeous to wear with my turquoise wool-cashmere coat! (The hat is also an Ysolda Teague pattern from a few years ago, Rose Red, a great favourite in a blend that has cashmere in it, too.)
My January got off to a busy start. I had two gifts to complete this month, neither of which I can yet show you, as the recipients haven’t had them, yet… sorry! I would just like to say they were both delightful projects that knitted up beautifully and blocked (washed and shaped) even more beautifully into accessories I am decidedly pleased with, in absolutely gorgeous yarns – let that be a teaser. And I really hope they find loving homes!
On reviewing what I have on the needles at the moment to write about, I was slightly embarrassed that there are at least six projects on the go, some are more, some less complex, but all have their merits…
Firstly, I have been working on another Quill shawl/small blanket (pattern by Jared Flood, yarn is Drops Flora, a great alpaca-wool blend), as I have mentioned previously. It’s the one that will need a tea bath when it’s finished to tone down the colour, as the yellow is rather brighter than I had intended. I’m on the last leg of this, the lace edging, so it’s a matter of picking it up and actually doing a repeat here and there until it’s finished, though the 700+ stitches on the needle right now make me twitch a little (and yet another KnitPro wooden needle broke, grrr). I had got a start on it and found, with much facepalming, that although I made two of these in 2017 and showed them off proudly, the lace was in fact incorrect (done in stocking stitch instead of garter…). I started this last one in the correct fashion but then after about 20cm found I actually preferred my “wrong” version, so ripped it out and recommenced… On the needles, it looks like a limp bag, but believe me, it will unfold from its chrysalis-like form into all the same glory as the two predecessors. Promise!
The point at which the needles broke and I had to reconstruct lace stitches 😮
As if I didn’t have enough blankets, I suddenly had a rare urge to crochet. This does not happen very frequently in my world, my mother is the crocheter. However, I came across a rather large box of superwash DK-weight merino in a pleasing range of colours and as I don’t use this type of yarn much any more, the idea of a simple granny-stripe blanket to “use them up” came to mind. Crochet eats up yarn at an alarming rate, so surely this would be perfect…. Friends, I have already had to go out and buy more yarn (and try and match up colours, not always successfully!) in order to actually get a blanket of useful dimensions. At the moment, it’s about 120cm wide and 60 cm high, so only about 1/3 done, and a lot of work to be done, yet. The colours are still lovely and go with my home, so it’s worth keeping up with it. There will be a million ends to sew in and it will be even larger than intended by the time it has an edging and I may well hate it by the time it’s finished and have to put it into hibernation until I can look at it again. But it will be a wondrous thing!! And as I chose a 3.5mm hook, the fabric is quite dense; it will be warm. A 4 or even 4.5mm hook would have been perfectly adequate (but it would have been even wider :o).
As a keen Skeindeer podcast fan, and with a daughter who seems to be churning out fabulous colourwork mittens in sensational rare breed yarns at an alarming rate, I felt I wanted to join the party. I have done colourwork mittens before, so it shouldn’t be an issue. However, much as I love the Julebukk pattern by Skeindeer, and I really adore the John Arbor yarns I bought in Oxford a couple of years ago (Exmoor Bluefaced Leicester/Alpaca), too, but after a promising start, I just don’t seem to be getting anywhere fast. I have just transferred the first mitten from DPNs (double pointed needles) to a circular to use the magic loop method, so maybe that will help. It requires a fair amount of concentration to follow this kind of chart so no reading or watching Netflix or podcasts, or even audiobooks, while working on these :o. I do truly love the yarns and hope to get my hands on more in the future, they are pure luxury. But possibly not ideal for the type of project, it has to be said. I mean to persevere and then to delve more into the world of Norwegian mittens, but for now, I need to concentrate on these!
The beginnings of the very pretty cuff…
While on the subject of luxury yarn, I have embarked on another Mandarines pattern (Melody Hoffman), Skogur. This looks to be a very simple knit, for a change, with a lot of very mindless garter stitch – it also looks as if the first section could take forever, as I have already invested countless hours and don’t feel I’m getting anywhere!! However, the yarn is another very worthwhile one, from the Faroe islands this time, a blend of Faroe island and Falkland wool, I believe. Or are the Falkland sheep on the Faroes?! I’m not entirely sure (how much farther apart could the Faroes and Falkland be?!). Still, for a so-called “rustic” yarn, it’s very smooth and soft and I’m definitely curious to see how it will come up when washed and blocked. I have chosen the same colour as in the original pattern, a silver grey, and am really enjoying working with the yarn, which I got from Laines des Iles in Brittany last summer. It’s supposed to become a fairly large crescent-shaped shawl…
The next items are FOs! My dear Canadian friend, who is not a knitter, has for several years running sent me a knitting calendar, with a lot of great little projects that take anything up to a week each to complete. What a fab idea to keep a knitter on her toes! Last weekend these Cindersmoke mittens popped up, in fairly thick yarn (I had some Drops Nepal to use up!) and needles, so I dived straight in and made them pretty much in the time frame suggested. As I made a sweater in this colour recently and I have a Shetland hat with this mustard yellow in it, too, I liked this choice… Now I come to think of it, my slippers are this colour, as well, and looking around, it seems I’m really fond of this shade… lol!!
This week, back to the mustard yet again for some socks called the Thankyou Socks, with a simple cable… This seemed a good option for plain-coloured sock wool I had picked up at the general store where my youngest daughter works and wanted to put to good use. Looks like these are going to be warm and squishy – and go with most of my wardrobe :O Just goes to show that even bargain yarns from non-specialist stores are worth looking at.
As if that wasn’t enough to be going on with, I have had both yarn and a pattern in mind for quite a while, now. I know that Drops has blotted their copybook with a lot of knitters lately, but it has to be said that their yarns are great value for money and I do have quite a bit in my stash – and stash is there to be used. This is Drops Alpaca, which is wonderfully soft and fine, in a beautiful rich red, and the pattern is Belmont by The Shetland Trader, Gudrun Johnston, from her book The Shetland Trader Two. It will be a nice little cardigan with a lace-pattern front; it’s cropped and although this isn’t something I generally go for, I do need a short cardigan to go over some of my dresses and skirts and I rather like the vintage look. And I do adore red (despite that penchant for mustard/gold!). I am just getting into the body of the garment, which is a bottom-up, in the round pattern, something I haven’t done for a couple of years, now, possibly not since I did Soay (also a Gudrun Johnston pattern)! I’m not yet sure if I will do the 3/4 sleeves or lengthen them to the wrist, but as they are top-down set-in sleeves (a technique I very much favour), I will see when I get there.
Oh, and remember the Oa?! There’s that, too… If you’re looking for me, I reckon I’ll be – knitting!