Sunday, January 26, 2014

Cables, Frogging And In The Round...

Sometimes, things just don't work out as planned. The cake flops for no apparent reason. The car won't start. The dinner party you had prepared for weeks results in two of your guests being struck down with food poisoning - no, this has never happened to me (she lied)......

The same sometimes occurs with knitting. Not often, but sometimes. January 2014 has been one of those 'sometimes' for me. Let me explain.

At the end of last year I ordered this book.....

Now for those of you that have never heard of Amy Herzog, do yourself a favour and go check out her website Have a roam around and I think you'll agree that her designs are fab and her CustomFit software truly awesome. I digress....

This particular book is crammed full of amazing patterns but more importantly, her ideas about Fit to Flatter are both welcome and unique. It basically entails working out your true shape and knitting designs that both flatter it and fit you properly. How many of us have knitted sweaters that look great on the pattern only to be hugely disappointed because the arms are too baggy/tight, the neckline too high/low or the whole ensemble just makes you look like a sack of spuds! Amy to the rescue!

I chose to make this -

Simple, classic and cabley (my word meaning full of gorgeous cables)! I had some green-based self patterning yarn and I set to work.

I made the ENTIRE jersey. I was thrilled. Admittedly, it looked a little skinny but hey, that's cables for you. I convinced myself that once I had sewn it up, given it a quick wash and blocked it, all would be well ... 

It was not to be. I sewed up one sleeve and knew straight away that things were NOT going to work out as planned. I sewed up the shoulders and put it over my head. My head did go through the neckline but it was tight ... in fact, very tight. Once the back and front were hanging down over my torso it became obvious (even to a blind man) that there was no way in this life, in my next life or even in a previous life when I was actually an ant, that this sweater was EVER going to fit me. No amount of washing, blocking, praying or tribal dancing would make it happen. It just wasn't going to work. No. Never. Nada.

So I frogged the whole thing. For those of you that don't know what frogging is well, it's the subtle art of (a) admitting that as a knitter you've made a humungus mistake, (b) that you've wasted valuable hours of your life constructing something that with every stitch, a little voice in your brain was saying "It's too small! It's too friggin' small!!!!" and (c) confessing that with middle age you've grown slightly and are no longer a 34 ... or even a 36 ... I took a deep breath, admitted all of the above and unpicked like a demon.

Then I turned my back on Amy (I know it's not her fault but hey, sometimes you just need to blame someone else) and picked a new pattern. I chose this -

Like it? I do. It's Gabbro by Carol Feller (another inspirational designer) and although it's a very simple design, the detail is beautiful. See the cut-outs on the neckline and down the sides? If you can't quite make them out, go to the Ravelry link here and have a look at the pics. Stunning.

Not only is this a lovely design, but it's also going to involve a couple of new skills for me, not least knitting the sleeves on DPNs or using Magic Loop. With my sock experiments I think I've almost mastered DPNs so now it's the turn of Magic Loop. I'm quite looking forward to it but know that I'll need a peaceful hour or five, my laptop, plenty of strong coffee and permission from my conscience to swear out loud when it goes wrong...... But then again, what is life without a challenge?

This design is knitted from the top down and although the neckline is done on two needles, after that you switch to a circular needle which means VERY LITTLE SEWING UP AT THE END!!!! Yay for circulars!

I started this yesterday and have already charged ahead......

Can you see the neckline, the cut-outs and sleeve shaping? This is what I love about top-down knitting - you can see the sweater literally growing out of the needles! I've already slipped it over my head to check the fit and it's perfect! The shoulders sit where they should and all is well in my little world once again!

I shall return to Amy's design during the course of the year and this time I will knit the version not for the size I wish I still was, but rather for the size that I really am....... although I may well lose weight by then ....... and then again, maybe I won't ......

Til soon.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Kim Hargreaves

Hello .......
For those of you that follow knitwear designers the name Kim Hargreaves will not be new to you. She is (in my humble opinion) an amazing designer and comes up with designs that are both unique and very wearable - definitely my kind of garments.
If you'd like to know more about Kim, click here.

A while ago I ordered one of Kim's knitting pattern books.
Now I'm not a great fan of knitting books as although I love looking through them, they do tend to be expensive and there is usually only one or two patterns that I would ever make.
However, this one was different.
As I scrolled through it on the internet (or the interweb as my 73 year old mom calls it!) I was finding myself saying things like "I'd make that" and "I could wear that with jeans"......
That's when I know that I need to buy the book.
It arrived today and is as glorious in print as it was on the interweb (sorry but I just can't stop using that word) ......
It's called Spirit .......

Can you see the writing down on the bottom right-hand side? Guess what it says?

21 designs!!!! Now that has GOT to be good value for money!
I thought I'd show you my favourites. I know I'll make all these at some point.....
within the next 2 years ....
or 12 months .....
or 6 months .......

First up is this one called Poise. It's so elegant with it's mix of rib and cables.
I love the neckline and I also love the way it's fitted.
I used to hate fitted sweaters but I'm realising now (thanks largely to What Not To Wear) that "big and baggy" (or "comfortable" as I used to call it) simply makes me look bigger than I really am!
We all have curves so why not show them off!!!!

Next is a cheeky little number called Peek. It's lacy and a little bit see through but with our climate here in South Africa, something that will let the cool air through is often much appreciated!

Then we have Bold. Great for Winter days with a pair of jeans and boots. Very striking. Knitted here in petrol blue and white but I'm thinking of two shades of grey.....

Moving on to Moni which is a classic shape and could be worn with almost anything (always useful)! I'm seeing this in a berry red which is one of my strongest colours.

Don't you love the collar?

Finally we get to my absolute bestest favourite .... Ease. Feast your eyes on this.

I love everything about this design. The shawl collar, the double breasted front, the moss stitch welts and cuffs and especially the colour. Dirty, sludgy, autumn/winter colours are my palette and this deep mushroom ticks all the right boxes for me.

Here's a couple of close ups ....

♥ ♥ ♥ LOVE, LOVE, LOVE ♥ ♥ ♥

So that's my little bit of eye candy for the day.
And just when I thought that my choices for my 12 in 12 Challenge had been made ...... Ho Hum.

Til soon.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Sock adventures....

I've been busy today. Knitting. Knitting socks. I know I've made socks before but they were 2 needle socks not real knitted socks....

I've always wanted to master the art of knitting socks on dpns (double pointed needles) but have never managed to master the art of handing 4 needles all at the same time. Until today. Here's the proof.....



Excuse the obvious ladder running up the front!!! I need to perfect my skills at joining between needles but apart from that, I'm really pleased with how it all turned out.
A proper 'turned heel' .... did you see it? Did you? Did you?
I'm so chuffed. A day well spent learning a new skill. I have lots of socks planned now but first I have to go shopping for sock wool........ such a chore......

Til soon.



Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Oh my. It's been a while. Six months to be exact. I could make excuses and tell you how busy I've been starting a new business but that was then and this is now so onward I say, ONWARD!!!!

First up - HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!! I really hope you all had a great Christmas. We had a quiet day at home just us four. Good times.

So what's in store for 2014????? Well, I had hoped to have moved house by now and 2014 was going to be Homemaking Year but we're still trying to sell so I've decided to embark on a slightly different challenge..... I'm calling it my 12/12 Challenge because I'm going to attempt to knit 12 garments in 12 months. I know it sounds easy but it usually takes me 2-3 months to knit one jersey so 12 in 12 will be a challenge for sure!!! I think I will have to knit a lot more than I do now (although my DH would say that isn't possible)!!! Still, what's life without a challenge?

I've started my list of possible projects although this will undoubtedly change as the year progresses. Here they are so tell me what you think. Their names should link you to the pattern on Ravelry so let me know if it doesn't work! Ta.

1 - Linney Cardigan by Amy Christoffers





7 - Piscataqua by Alison Green

8 - Venezia by Vera Sanon

9 - Winona by Laura Chau

10 - Jaina by Thayer Preece Parker

11 - Eadon by Susanna IC

12 - Sabbatical by Connie Chang Chinchio

Did I say "started" a list .... seems pretty full to me.... hey ho, never mind. I'm sure they will all have changed by 1 Jan 2015!!!!!

They're not all for me, by the in South Africa I don't have much use for so many so I plan to make for friends and family. Just saying.....

The first one I plan on making is actually not on the list! That's because I'm using a new system by Amy Herzog called CustomFit where you enter all your details, measurements, what sort of jersey you want, etc and the program comes up with a pattern UNIQUE TO YOU!!!! How cool is that? Sadly there's no picture of the pattern I've created but I'm going to use this yarn

which was given to me a while ago. Never look a gift horse and all that..... Not sure how it's going to turn out but it's quite exciting not knowing really. I'll keep you posted....

Well, I think that's it for now. Thanks for stopping by.
Til soon.