Shades of autumn

The autumn has definitely arrived and the English countryside is turning shades of reds and golds.  My knitting, without conscious  intention, is following suit.

04-IMG_9887I knit these beautiful mitts this week using Quince & Co Chickadee yarn in the colour Honey.  The pattern is called Antiquity and is designed by Alicia Plummer.

I didn’t like the colour when I first bought this yarn (ordered online) but now I think it is luscious – particularly juxtaposed with autumn’s bounty.

08-IMG_9896There is a small orchard near our house, which I think is mostly a hobby for its apple-enthusiast owner.  He grows dozens of varieties of apples, most of which I’ve never heard of; over a period of four months a different variety reaches its peak every week or two.  Doug and I go there every week through the autumn and try them all.  These are called Catshead apples and they are a very old variety, dating from the 1600s.  I’m not sure what they taste like but they certainly look delicious with my mitts.

Doug has just returned today from an exhausting business trip to Mumbai and then on to Brussels.  It was not autumn-like in Mumbai but Doug seems to have been on the same wavelength as me since he returned with autumn colours.   Since I seem to be developing a theme here – here are my mitts photographed against the antique carpet Doug bought in Mumbai:

07-IMG_9893I have also been slowly making progress knitting my Lightweight Pullover, designed by Hannah Fettig, and knit in the glorious Tart shade of Madelinetosh Light.  It fits in perfectly with our autumn theme today.  Here is a progress shot:

09-IMG_9903This also shows the great fit.  I am modifying the pattern to get an in-between size and I am quite happy with the results.  Tart is such a lovely rich colour.  The simplicity of this pattern, basically just miles of stockinette stitch, allows the colour to shine.

12-IMG_9908When Doug left for Mumbai, he asked me what I wanted him to bring me.  I asked for saffron and a tablecloth.  And Doug, even though he only had a few hours free on the whole trip, managed to bring me saffron and a tablecloth.  I can’t resist showing you the tablecloth here, especially as it fits so perfectly with this post:

13-IMG_9909Amazing, isn’t it?  It’s pure silk and practically luminescent.  I can’t wait to see this adorning my Christmas table.

I cast on another project this week, but since it’s grey  and doesn’t fit the theme, you will have to wait to see it.  Whatever your weather, enjoy the colours!

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Kind thoughts, cold hands

Last week I celebrated the third anniversary of writing this blog by having a contest.  The winner would receive two skeins of Wollmeise yarn in their choice of lapislazuli, medium amethyst, or one of each.  I was overwhelmed by the many lovely comments you left; thank you very much for your kind thoughts.  The winner of the contest is #25 – Tam J!

 

3rd anniversary number generator

 

Tam asked for two skeins of the Amethyst.  Tam, I will contact you by email to get your address.  Congratulations!  So we can all admire your luck, here is a shot of the lovely yarn:

3-IMG_9860I had a very busy workshop at the b-school last weekend.  We spent four days (Friday-Monday) in an intense and exciting class on corporate reputation and responsibility.  This was exhausting but fun.  What was not fun was that I was freezing the entire four days.  (Of the 38 people in the room, half of us were bundled in our coats shivering, while the other half claimed to be roasting.)  This led me to two conclusions: (1) the answer to everything is layers, and (2) I need some fingerless mitts.

The observant reader of this blog might interject at this point to say “But, Kelly, you have knit 5 pairs of fingerless mitts over the past few years!”  However, my daughters ended up with two pairs each, and the fifth pair, sadly, is hiding.  What better way to recover from two weeks of full-out craziness than to knit a pair of mitts!

My first attempt, I’m sorry to say, was not successful.  I had a skein of lovely Madelinetosh Tosh Merino DK in Composition Book Grey left over from Leah’s gorgeous cardigan.  I decided it would make a great pair of mitts, and choose this pattern:

copyright verabee

copyright verabee

The pattern is by Vera Brosgol and called Masonry Mitts.  I like this pattern.  I love this yarn.  Together: not so much.  It turns out the pattern needs a nice crisp yarn.  The Madtosh is silky and drapey and beautiful, but it is not crisp.  The pattern calls for Cascade 220.  Substituting with the Madtosh was a bad idea:

1-IMG_9873This is not crisp, it’s floppy!  Clearly, a good blocking would fix it up some, but I think that this is a case of bad yarn-pattern matching.  (Also, it is too big!  It is even too big for Doug!)  This not-quite-finished mitt is heading to the frog pile.

I then spent far too much time searching for an alternate mitt pattern for the Madtosh but nothing was sparking.  A bit of creative thinking led me to this:

copyright AliciaPlum

copyright AliciaPlum

These are the very sweet Antiquity Mitts, designed by Alicia Plummer.  The pattern calls for a skein of Quince & Co Chickadee wool.  I just happen to have several skeins of Chickadee in a number of colours scattered around the house.  I cast one on this morning and am quite pleased with the result:

2-IMG_9876This colour is called Honey; I had ordered it on-line for another project and then decided it had too much brown and not enough gold.  It’s been sitting in the stash ever since.  I wasn’t convinced, even this morning as I was casting-on, if I liked the colour, but it is growing on me.  And the pattern is lovely; very charming and quick with some pretty stitchwork:

3-IMG_9879Thank you again for all of the nice comments.  Here’s to another year of knitting and blogging!

 

Third anniversary contest

Three years ago today, I published my first post on this blog.  Surprisingly, I have not yet run out of things to say.  Life has been busy the past year, and it is sometimes difficult to find time for knitting and blogging.  I have been lucky to have Emma, Leah, and Doug, who are always willing to help out and put up with crazy requests.  I am also lucky to have made friends through blogging; thank you to all of the regular readers here for your comments and support through the years.  You have made this fun.

To mark this anniversary, I am going to give away some yarn.  One lucky commenter will receive two skeins of the widely-admired (and hard to obtain) Wollmeise Pure 100% Wolle.  These beautifully dyed skeins are in fingering weight and come in very generous 150 gram skeins, with approximately 574 yards per skein.  The winner of this contest can have their choice of two skeins of Lapislazuli, a rich pure blue:

4-IMG_9858

Or, two skeins of Amethyst medium, a very pretty purple:

3-IMG_9860

Or, for the indecisive person, one skein of each:

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Here’s how it works.  Please leave a comment to this post.  In your comment, let me know if you prefer the blue, the purple, or one of each.  (Please only leave one comment.)  I will pick a winner by using a random number generator.  Only comments received before Friday October 10th at 6pm my time (GMT) will be eligible to win.  I will announce the winner on Saturday, October 11th.  There are no geographical restrictions.  This yarn is part of my stash – it has been kept in plastic bins in a smoke-free, animal-free household and treated with love and respect.

Good luck!

I will be leaving tomorrow for a workshop and will be crazy busy all week; nonetheless I will bring stacks of knitting, just in case!

 

 

In defense of boring

I once overheard a knitter responding to the question: “What’s the most difficult type of knitting?”  “The boring kind,” was her response.  She went on to say that she liked to knit lace and stranded patterns – the more complicated the pattern, the more colours used, and the smaller the needle size, the better.  Sometimes, however, boring is good.

2-IMG_9854There is nothing quite so boring, and yet so uniquely compelling as knitting in stockinette in the round.  Stitch after stitch, well over three hundred on the needles at this point, with no end of the row, no need to turn the needles, no purling, no counting, no thinking.  It may be boring knitting, but boring knitting can be mesmerizing.  It is sometimes just what the doctor ordered – a little bit of Zen, an escape from stress, time to let your mind wander.  And when the colour is as rich and lovely as this, it’s a bit of eye candy too.

In a break from my Zen-knitting today, I spent some time “Surfing the Knit” – another mesmeric activity but definitely not as productive.  I’ll bring you a few tidbits here:

  1.  Ginger Twist Studio has an announcement on her blog for a Historic Music Knitting Event in Edinburgh on October 6th.  Here is a brief description: “Knit one, pearl 1942! A Stitch in Time: Lost Knitting Songs from the World Wars is a musical lecture about knitting (yes, knitting!) songs that were written during WWI and WWII in both North America and Britain.”  How cool is that?
  2. I found the most amazing site today.  It is in Beta now, and they are looking for comments, so please check them out.  It is called Yarnsub.com.  I was looking online for substitutes for Brooklyn Tweed Loft (I love Loft, but can’t always dish out for the expensive stuff) and came onto this page.  It lists the characteristics of the yarn you are trying to match, and then rates each of several substitutes according to weight, texture, fibre content, gauge, etc.  I love this!
  3. And here’s an interesting one: “As part of the Great British Bioscience Festival, BBSRC is running Knit-a-Bug: The Great British Bioscience Knitting Competition. BBSRC invites knitters from across the country to get creative with bioscience by knitting bacteria and viruses that can impact human and animal health. ”  I think I’ll stick with my Zen-knitting, thank you very much.

Two is not too many

A few weeks ago, the lovely Dayana of Dayana Knits, published a post about her WIPs.  (For those not in the know, a WIP is a work-in-progress.)  She started the post with a photo of all of her WIPs piled on top of each other in a neat stack.  Since Dayana is a very accomplished knitter who chooses interesting and challenging projects, the pile was very pretty, with lots of colour and fancy stitchwork.  This started me thinking about my own WIPs.  Now that I have finished off Leah’s sweater, I have only two!  These two:

1-IMG_9822On the bottom is Exeter, an amazing double-breasted heavily cabled jacket designed by Michele Wang for Brooklyn Tweed.  When done, it will look like this:

copyright Jared Flood/Brooklyn Tweed

copyright Jared Flood/Brooklyn Tweed

 

Both sleeves are finished, washed, and blocked, the back is very nearly done, and I have started on the ribbing for the left front.  The front pieces, which include the collar, are both large and fiddly, however, so there is still much to be done.

The WIP on the top is the gorgeous Soumak Scarf Wrap designed by Lisa Richardson for Rowan 54.  When finished, it will look like this (except, of course, on me!):

copyright Rowan Yarns 2013

copyright Rowan Yarns 2013

There are seven pattern repeats in this shawl and I have finished 5 1/4 of them.  Close, but no cigar!  That also does not take into account all of the ends that will need to be woven in:

4-IMG_9821

Dayana commented in her post that “nothing is quite so pleasing (and yet so alarming) as piling them all on top of each other!”  Dayana’s alarm was no doubt due to the fact that she had quite a few projects on the go (I counted; it was 7).   I, too, was alarmed but for a far different reason.  I cast on for the Soumak Wrap on September 13, 2013!  That was (just) over a year ago!  And, I cast on my lovely Exeter on February 17, 2013!  Clearly, this is a case of the never-ending knit!

So I ask you, Dear Reader, what do you think was my immediate thought upon reading Dayana’s post?  Was it to devote my efforts to finishing off these long-lingering projects?  I fear not.  My very first thought was:  I have too few WIPs!  Yes, I am the very same knit blogger who once wrote a post about the utter insanity of having too many WIPs.  However, as I am sure we can all agree, when it comes to WIPs, two is not too many.

That leads us to this:

2-IMG_9829

A clever knitter, faced with two never-ending projects, would cast on for something quick – a hat perhaps, or some speedy mitts.  So what did I do?  I decided to knit a turtleneck sweater in fingering weight yarn.  Above, you can see the “turtleneck” portion of my new top-down knit-in-the-round turtleneck.  The pattern was designed by Hannah Fettig and is called the Lightweight Pullover. When it is done, it will look like this:

copyright Quince & Co

copyright Quince & Co

I am knitting it with Madelinetosh Tosh Merino Light in Tart.  Perhaps next September, it will show up in a post about long-lingering WIPs!

Klaralund

Wearability Wednesday is an occasional feature on this blog, in which I re-visit something I’ve knit in the past and discuss it from a wearability standpoint.  Do I still wear it?  Why?  Or why not?  Has it held up to time?  How do I style it?  Today’s post goes back to a pullover which I knit eight years ago, in the spring of 2006.  Unfortunately,  I can only find one photograph of it from that time, so please ignore the bewildered expression on my face and the washed-out colours (this was before we moved to a digital camera, so we were unable to take 40 photos to get one good shot):

2255927184_47bf365b98_zThis is the Klaralund sweater, designed by Cornelia Tuttle Hamilton for Noro. It is knit in Noro Silk Garden.  The above photo was taken in October of 2006, shortly after we moved to England.  Here I am wearing it, eight years later and twenty pounds (egads!) heavier:

1-IMG_9670I have documented elsewhere on this blog my troubles with a repetitive stress injury (deQuervaine’s tenosynovitis) that led to me being unable to knit for more than a decade.  This was the second sweater I made after I was able to take up knitting again.  I wore this sweater to death!  For the first few years after I knit it, it was the go-to item in my wardrobe.  Jeans, check!  Klaralund, check!  Ready to go.  Why did I wear it so much?  I liked to wear hand-knit sweaters and I had very few to choose from at the time.  I loved the colours.  It was easy, un-fussy, but pretty.

At some point, however, I stopped wearing it.  Until Doug took these photos a few weeks ago, I hadn’t had it on in years.  Why did I stop wearing it?  First of all, I think I had worn it so often that I had become bored with it.  Second, as the years went on and I knit more and more, I had a growing pile of hand knits to wear, so it had some competition.  More importantly, however:  this sweater is shapeless.  It is four rectangles sewn together.  There is no shaping whatsoever.  The combination of dropped shoulders and no waist shaping means that it is baggy and shapeless.

2-IMG_9665There is nothing particularly wrong with shapeless sweaters.  In fact, over-sized sweaters without waist shaping and with dropped shoulders are right in style now.  The past few years, however, has had me knitting a succession of shapely, curvy sweaters for me and the girls (for example, Livvy for me, Venetian Audrey for Emma and Peloponnese for Leah).  Compared with them, my Klaralund felt sloppy.  Another reason may also have to do with ego – it is nice to wear a hand knit sweater that shows off your expertise.  Klaralund can be made by a total beginner.

Now that I’ve put it back on though, I think I might resurrect it.  It is still comfortable and easy.  The colours are still bright and interesting.  It has even held its shape (in a shapeless kind of way).  I can still fit into it, despite the extra weight!  Furthermore, it brought back a bit of nostalgia.  I knit this before Ravelry existed.  When I was considering making this sweater, I put ‘Klaralund’ into a search engine and discovered that other knitters were doing the same – this was how I discovered knitting blogs for the first time.  For me, this sweater marks the beginning of the internet in my knitting life.  Who could have guessed that the internet would have so totally changed the knitting community and the way I think about knitting?

So, perhaps the next time I go walk by the river on a windy day or sip my morning coffee in the back garden, I may just pull Klaralund out of the closet.

4-IMG_9645

 

Pattern Radar – August 2014

Let’s look at the facts: (1) I have no new knitting to show you, and (2) I really, really should be writing a paper for business school right this minute.  What does this mean?  Well, in the procrastinator’s universe it means that it is time to bring you a new Pattern Radar post!  This is where I show you which patterns have caught my eye over the past month or two.

Linda Marveng has been getting lots of notice in knitting circles lately.  This popped up on my screen just this week:

© Eivind Røhne

© Eivind Røhne

This is the Cable Round Sweater.  The  cables are framed by rib which gives it more shape than a traditional cabled garment, and the cowl is a separate piece which adds flexibility.  It is one of four beautiful sweaters that Linda designed for the September edition of Made by Me, a Norwegian-language knitting magazine.  The other three are much more tailored and striking, but this one appeals to me.   If you don’t read Norwegian, don’t fret; she will release the English-language patterns in the Fall.

Alexis Winslow has a new book out called Graphic Knits.  I love the Laszlo Cardigan (Ravelry link is here):

© Joe Hancock

© Joe Hancock

I love the bold lines, the graphic pop of black-on-white, and the slightly-oversized coziness of it.  I’m particularly fond of the sleeves – those long rows of buttons on rib really grabbed my attention.

A number of years ago, I took a course from Shirley Paden on Sweater Design (at Knit Nation in London).  It was a small class, with only a handful of students.  One of them was Signe Strømgaard who designs beautiful garments for children.  Check out Signe’s work at Strik til Banditter  – the designs are amazing; she is doing some of the most creative work in children’s design right now. I really love this new pattern:

© Signe Strømgaard

© Signe Strømgaard

This is called Sesse and I think it’s pretty much perfect.  Signe has this pattern, along with 10 others, available in English in an e-book which can be purchased on the Ravelry link here.

Jasna Kaludjerovic is a new-to-me designer, who really grabbed my attention this month with this number:

© Jasmin Knits

© Jasmin Knits

This is the Lilynet dress and matching hat.  I absolutely love this retro 60s/70s look.  In fact, this dress reminds me very much of a dress my mother knit in the 1960s which I reported on in this blog post.  I will definitely be keeping my eye on Jana’s designs.

As you may know, I always keep my eye out for great menswear patterns.  The latest one to capture my attention is Tilt, by Lisa Richardson.  I love Lisa’s work (though we shall not mention the Richardson-designed wrap-that-never-ends that has been on my needles for a year now).

© Rowan Yarns, 2014

© Rowan Yarns, 2014

I love that the incredibly rich colourwork is made by knitting fairisle with just two different yarns, one of them variegated; thus it looks more complicated than it actually is.  Doug really likes this one, too, so it has definitely made its way into my queue.

I absolutely should not be looking at patterns for endless long wraps with tons of intricate colourwork (see above reference to unmentionable wrap).  I cannot deny being very attracted to this one however:

© Marie Wallin, 2014

© Marie Wallin, 2014

The photo is atmospheric and only gives a hint of the fabulousness of this Mint Wrap, designed by Marie Wallin and published by Rowan in Windswept: Collection One.  Repeat after me:  I will resist; I will resist.

However, I may be unable to resist another Marie Wallin pattern, Parsley,  from the same publication:

© Marie Wallin, 2014

© Marie Wallin, 2014

Again, the photo is a bit dark and atmospheric and doesn’t capture all of the colour and beauty of this design.  I absolutely adore the contrast of the fairisle patterned bands with the plaid bands, and the unusual, almost jarring, colour choices.  Love, love, love!

I have a particular fondness for garments, but sometimes accessories catch my eye.  I love this cowl pattern, Fusuma, designed by Kirsten Johnstone:

© Kirsten Johnstone

© Kirsten Johnstone

Kirsten was inspired by Japanese sliding screens and I think she nailed it.  I love the spare, stark lines.

Akebia is sweet:

© Twist Collective

© Twist Collective

I love Kate Gilbert’s designs, and this one, from the Twist Collective, hits all of the right buttons for me.  It is charming and looks so wearable – I can really see myself  wearing this one everywhere.  And that little peek of vibrant colour at the hems gives it just enough of an edge to keep it from being too sweet, if you know what I mean.

And to end with a bit of fun, here is Big Red:

© Rowan Yarns, 2014

© Rowan Yarns, 2014

This super chunky cardigan is designed by Josh Bennett for his Rowan Designer Collection: What do you become at night?  The collection is based on a Little Red Riding Hood theme, heavy on the wolf motif.  This is knit with Rowan Cocoon held double, which rules it out for me: if I were to wear it I’d end up like the witch in Hansel and Gretel instead (roasted, that is).  I love Josh Bennett, who is equally at ease designing classics and over-the-top pieces, and clearly has a sense of fun.

That’s it for Pattern Radar!  Even the best procrastination must come to an end.