Special yarn for a special blanket

Since my last post I have finished three baby blankets (a vaguely masculine blanket, a vaguely feminine blanket and a Blue Skies blanket), although I haven’t had a chance to photograph them. I will, soon, and then I’ll tell you more about them.

I’m now starting a fourth blanket and I’m so excited about the project I couldn’t wait to write about it. I had been admiring the Vivid by Tin Can Knits for quite a while and when then had a BOGOF sale a few months ago I decided to go ahead and buy the pattern, together with Pop. Shortly after that Townhouse Yarns began selling mini skeins of their popular Grafton 4ply yarn in bold rainbow colours. And a plan was formed.

SummerI contacted Townhouse Yarns over Twitter to see if they had any other colour schemes planned for the mini skeins and Jenny offered to custom dye some yarn for me if I had something specific in mind. I didn’t, but took the opportunity to do some research and come up with something. After spending waaaay too much time online I found the image above on Design Seeds. I wanted something gender neutral but with really bright contrasting colours.

Townhouse_Yarns_001Jenny did not disappoint. Here is what she came up with. See why I’m so excited? Using the mods detailed in this project on Ravelry I rekon I can get three squares from each colour which means 18 squares. I might use some dark grey from my stash to make up two last squares to make it an even 20.

Townhouse_Yarns_009I really hated to take these mini skeins out of the packet and wind them but now I have 12 gorgeous cupcakes of yarn ready for knitting. I hope these squares won’t take tooooo long to knit up and I’ll soon have a beautiful custom dyed, hand knitted blanket for a special little someone who is arriving in July.

Surrounded by baby knits

Wow, it’s been a bit quiet around here recently huh? Well in the background I’ve been busy knitting away since my knitting mojo returned. And it returned with such gusto that I’ve been too busy knitting to actually write about what I’ve been doing.

Baby knits 031And I was right when I predicted this would be the year of babies for me. Four of my cousins, one of my best friends and many of the knitters I know have just had babies or are currently pregnant. I guess I’m just getting to that age. So I am surrounded by baby knits with no end in sight.

IMAG0292 (1)Not that this is a problem, baby knits are cute and quick. And then you have the fun of finding the perfect buttons to compliment the yarn and pattern. I love really bright contrasting colour buttons and have been trying to work my way through my stash but have ended up buying some when I just don’t have the perfect button to hand.

Baby knits 027The first and second photos show in threes: a baby cardigan by Kelly Herdrich, both knit using DROPS Baby Merino that I bought from Winnie’s Wool Wagon a while back. I love this yarn, it’s a fingering weight, superwash wool and comes in a variety of bright colours. And at €3.50 for 175 meters it’s great value too. Using less than a ball and a half I knit the purple one in size 2T with it fitting up to about 6 months (at a guess, I don’t really know how big babies are) and the pink one I knit the 3T size which I would guess will fit someone from about 6 months up?

I’ve also gotten feedback from the recipient of the purple cardigan that the short sleeves are great, which I’m delighted to hear because I hate knitting sleeves. I see a lot of these cardigans in my future and in fact have another on my needles at the moment.

Baby knits 023The red cardigan is Beyond Puerperium by Kelly Brooker and I really love the teal contrasting buttons. The yarn is Mirasol Yarn Samp’a and the 6-12 month size took about 2 balls. I assumed because this was cotton that it would be machine washable but the yarn band advises hand washing. I put it in the wash when it was finished and it came out ok but I’m not sure if it withstand a lot of washing so I’ll have to be careful about who I give this one to.

I’ve also finished one Old Growth by tincanknits and have plans for a second one. And as I mentioned I have my bajillionth In Threes on my needles. These are all knit using Malabrigo Yarn Rios in Sunset that I picked up a couple of months ago. More on that soon(ish)….

 

Finally an FO

According to Ravelry I started this shawl back in October! It was one of the projects on my list to finish after Christmas to help get my knitting mojo back. And I think it’s worked. It’s also helped that the days are getting longer so it’s easier to fit a few rows in on the bus in the morning and evenings.

LibraryShawl 008Anyway, back to my shawl. The pattern was the very popular Cladonia by Kirsten Kapur. I had wanted to knit this for quite a while and I really liked the result. I wanted to make a bigger shawl than the pattern suggested. I reached the required number of stitches with 52g of yarn left so I followed the advice of other knitters and kept going until I had 35 stitches between markers. This meant I used most of the yarn in my 100g skein, which I always feel is good value.

LibraryShawl 011The yarn I used was Dublin Dye Company Swing Sock in Library, which I pretty much bought because it was called Library and I’m a librarian. I’m a sucker, I know. It’s a lot more variegated than I would normally go for and while I like the result I think I’ll stick to semi-solids in future. However, I really like the Swing Sock base, the stitch definition is really crisp and the yarn is machine washable and very soft.

LibraryShawl 004For the border I used Madelinetosh Tosh Merino Light in Paper. Library and paper, these yarns are a match made in heaven. I really like how the cream from the Paper helps pick up the cream from the Library. I did a picot bind-off (cast on 3, bind off 5) rather than the looped bind-off in the pattern. I love how a picot bind-off looks, but my god it takes ages. This ended up as a gift for a wonderful friend who hit a big birthday this February. A special shawl for a special lady. I hope she likes it.

 

I need another shawl like a…

A plan has been forming in my head over the last few days. I really *need* want a new shawl and I have some very specific criteria for the pattern. I’m not even sure where the idea came from but it has slowly materialised. I’ve also wanted to write about the awesomeness that is the Ravelry advanced search for quite a while so this is kind of an introduction to the faceted search functions.

Stitch markers 158So here are my criteria:

  • Size: I want a really big cosy shawl to wrap around me on cold evenings, not just something to drape over my shoulders, but something to really wrap around me like a big hug.
  • Shape: Because I want a proper wrap I think a crescent shape or rectangle would suit my idea best. I think crescent would be my preference as I feel it would sit better on my shoulders, but I want to keep my options open.
  • Yarn: ISLINGTON by Kettle Yarn Co. in Light Squirelly and Titus 4ply by Eden Cottage Yarns in Coal, I bought these when I was in London last summer. I hadn’t necessarily planned on using them together when I bought them but they go together quite well.
  • Texture: I really fancy something with a lot of garter stitch. I figure garter isn’t too taxing to knit, given my loss of knitting mojo, and is so super squishy. And I do love lace, so I’m not opposed to (and in fact would quite like) a bit of lace to liven things up.

But how do I translate this into search results I hear you cry? The magic that is Ravelry advanced search can actually capture all of these criteria and serve me back results that I can then sort using a variety of options. Using the facets (or options) that appear on the righthand side of the screen this is how I searched for my perfect shawl:

  •  Craft: Knitting. This is my default option, but you can also refine by crochet patterns and machine knitting and loom knitting have also been added recently.
  • Category: Accessories -> All Neck / Torso-> Shawl / Wrap. We’ll I’m looking for a shawl pattern so this is pretty much self explanatory but it really helps narrow your search results to exactly what you’re looking for.
  • Weight: Light Fingering / 3ply & Fingering / 4 ply & Sport / 5ply. The two yarns I’ve chosen are both fingering weight but I’ve decided to include light fingering and sport in my results. Because a shawl doesn’t necessarily need to fit I can be a flexible with the yarn weight.
  • Attributes: Shapes -> Crescent / Half Circle / Rectangle. For some reason I need to apply these filters separately. While most facets have an ‘or’ join (light fingering OR sport) attributes seem to have an ‘and’ (rectangle AND crescent). This means that it only returns results that are both rectangles AND crescent, which doesn’t return many results as you might expect.
  • Meterage: 600 – 800m. You can choose your range by clicking a tick-box beside a pre decided range, or you can enter a range manually, which is what I did. I want to use as much of the skeins as possible but know I could add a few repeats if needed to use up more yarn so I’ve chosen to see shawls that need between 600 and 800 metres.
  • Keywords: garter. I want a shawl that has a proportion of garter stitch in it so I just type garter into the search box and hit enter.
  • Sort: Most popular / Best match. You can also sort your results based on different criteria. I like to use most popular, but if I’m not seeing what I want I’ll sort by best match.

I get 62 search results for ‘crescent‘, 26 results for ‘half-circle‘ and 23 results for ‘rectangle‘. This is much easier to sort through than simply typing in ‘garter shawl’ or other keywords. I’ve narrowed it down a bit more visually and here are my top picks so far.

Asunder by Lisa Mutch

Styx by Magdalena Kubatek

Persian Crescent by Claudia Donnelly Designs

Ascalon by Christelle Nihoul

What do you think? I’d love to hear which one you prefer in the comments.

A winner and an update

Wooly Woofers 061Last week I ran a giveaway for a copy of Woolly Woofers by Debbie Bliss. Thank you so much to everyone who entered. The winner is nswifty, congratulations Niamh, I’ll be contacting you as soon as this post publishes and will get the book to you early next week. I plan on running more giveaways, most likely my favourite patterns, using Ravelry’s ‘send as a gift’ facility. Using this option I can gift a pattern to anyone with either a Ravelry account or email address. Giveaways are so much fun.

Screen Shot 2015-01-23 at 09.49.03So I also mentioned an update. We’ll I finished two WIPs from my list; the baby cardigan which is going to it’s new owner today and the shawl has finally been bound off and blocked. I’ll have photos to share next week. And I’ll be starting the second slipper for my sister in law this weekend.

I also need to make a list of FOs that never got a photo shoot, which I hope will be remedied this weekend:

The one thing I will say in my defence, it’s hard to photograph things in the winter. I’m never home during daylight during the week and at weekends it’s pure lucky if you get a bright day. But come rain or shine I’m taking my camera out this weekend – I am going to force the creativity back into myself if I have to.

 

Lamenting the loss of my knitting mojo

You may have noticed that things have been a little quiet around here lately. One of the reasons for this is because my knitting mojo seems to have taken a sabbatical. In fact my creativity full stop has gone on holidays so I haven’t even felt much like writing.

But I am determined to break through the barrier and get back to my knitting and my blogging. Because even though I don’t really feel like doing either I still miss them.

Cadeautje by Ysolda TeagueSo what have I been up to? Well the last project I actually finished were a pair of Cadeautje by Ysolda Teague for the Knitmas swap I took part in before Christmas. I finished those at the end of November and I didn’t even have time for a proper photoshoot before posting them. Since then I’ve started several projects but have yet to come even close to finishing any of them.

Awaiting finishing are:

  • Cladonia by Kirsten Kapur. I’m about a third of the way through the picot bind off on this one, and it’s been sitting waiting to be finished since about mid-November I’d say.
  • A second pair of Cadeautje by Ysolda Teague for my sister-in-law. I finished one slipper in time for Christmas but the second has yet to materialise. Sorry A! I had also planned on knitting a pair for my husband and a pair for me. I’m not holding my breath.
  • Mug Sweater by nawano. I had a great idea to knit mug sweaters for each of my colleagues for Christmas, I think 15 in total. I even knit, blocked and seamed about half of the bodies and bought the little clasps for the hands, but that’s as far as I got. Maybe for Easter?
  • Bronntanas by Ysolda Teague. This was for a special friend who agreed to do some graphics for my blog. I’m a couple of rows past the brim. I’m using my favourite Coolree yarn and it’s a really straight forward pattern so I don’t know what’s holding me back. Sorry Y!
  • Super Easy Baby Blanket by Purl Soho. God! I haven’t even started this one, but did choose the pattern as well as some yarn I picked up at HandmAid. I know at least 3 people who are pregnant at the moment so this was planned to be for one of these new humans.
  • Chevron Baby Blanket by Espace Tricot. I bought the yarn for this blanket in the sale in This Is Knit just after Christmas, again planned for one of three new humans. I even mananged a few stripes before realising I had cast on too few stitiches it was too narrow. I need to rip this out and start again.
  • in threes: a baby cardigan by Kelly Herdrich. I’m actually making some headway with this one, mainly because this fourth new human has actually arrived. Having said that though progress is still slow.

I am a monogamous knitter so this does number of WIPs does not sit well with me. At all. But I have a plan. My plan is to finished the In Threes cardigan for the newly arrived new human. Then I’m going to finish my Cladonia (that I cast on in October!). Then I am going to knit my SIL’s second slipper. Then I’m going to reassess if my knitting mojo has fully returned and see where I go from there.

As I mentioned there are three new humans on the way over the next year, and each of them belongs to a close friend or family member so I suspect there will be much knitwear needed. And that’s ok, because until my knitting mojo returns with gusto small, easy projects are probably all I will manage. I have a feeling 2015 is going to be a year of baby knitting for me and that’s ok.

A New Year Giveaway – Woolly Woofers by Debbie Bliss

Wow, how has it been 6 weeks since my last post!?!? I’m not quite sure how that happened. I guess life just got in the way. I haven’t even been knitting much. But I did have a lovely, relaxing Christmas break and I’m looking forward to the rest of 2015 with anticipation.

But to help me (and you, dear reader) get past this hiatus I am having a New Year’s giveaway. Back in September I reviewed Woolly Woofers by Debbie Bliss. At the time I bought a copy for myself and the publisher also sent me a review copy, so I have a spare copy to give away to one of my lovely readers.

Wooly Woofers 075If you would like to win a copy of Woolly Woofers all you have to do is:

  • Follow my blog through WordPress (when logged in to WordPress click the follow button on the top left of your screen)
  • Follow my blog via email (there is a button)
  • And/or ‘like’ my Facebook Page
  • (If you already follow my blog/like my Facebook page let me know in the comments and I’ll include you too 😉 )

Each of these actions is one entry in the giveaway.

Thanks for all your entries. The competition is now closed.

The giveaway ends Midnight GMT, Sunday 18th January. I’ll choose the winner using a random number generator and announce the winner on Monday January 19th. I’ll contact the winner via email/Facebook to arrange to post them their prize (I’ll post to anywhere). And feel free to share this post with anyone you think would enjoy these prizes.

Yarn dyeing workshop

Last weekend I had the pleasure of attending a yarn dyeing workshop that had been organised by The Irish Guild of Weavers, Spinners, and Dyers. The workshop was taught by Yvonne from the Dublin Dye Company and took place in the upstairs studio at the Constant Knitter. Now, I need another hobby like I need a hole in the head, but when I saw the workshop advertised I just couldn’t resist – colour and texture are such large parts of why I knit.

And I wasn’t disappointed! Yvonne started the workshop by explaining how the dyeing process works. We were using acid dyes. The dyes themselves are activated by using an acid (citric acid or vinegar), water and heat which allows the dye to stick to the fibre.We learned about create resists, by tying the hank of yarn in a knot or twisting it so that the dye doesn’t cover all of the yarn evenly.

Yarn Dyeing processAnd then we were on to the actual dyeing process. This felt quite daunting at first, to be handed a skein of creamy yarn, a bowl with some water and dyes and told to give it a go ourselves. I don’t think I’m alone in say I felt a bit overwhelmed, but I chose some colours I like and just got stuck in. We got to dye two skeins of yarn, a sock yarn (75% merino, 25% nylon) and a Merino DK, which I have to say was surprisingly generous given that the workshop only cost €40.

Kettle dyedThere were two main techniques we tried – kettle dying and hand paining. I tried kettle dying for both of my skeins as I prefer a semi-solid yarn to highly variegated ones. The sock yarn I dyed a shocking pink but added purple to get some variations in the tone. The DK weight I dyed a turquoise colour, adding first yellow, then blue and then black to different parts of the yarn to create a semi-solid colour. My skeins are currently drying in my bathroom so I’ll go into more detail, with photos, in another blog post. We were only using a relatively limited palette of bold colours so the variations that we all came up with were beautiful.

HandpaintingSome of the others in the group tried hand paining their yarn, again with gorgeous results. I really hope the Guild of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers run this workshop again. It was great value and great fun and there’s so much to learn when it comes to dying, I feel like we only scratched the surface. I’ll post photos of my finished yarns later in the week.

Have you ever dyed yarn at home? Do you have any tips for me?

Bake Knit Sew blog tour winner

Bake Knit Sew

Hi all, just a quick post today to let you know who won the copy of Bake Knit Sew by Evin Bail O’Keeffe. The winner is Diane F, congratulations. Diane, Evin will be in touch with you directly on Ravelry to send you your ecopy of the book.

As for my knitting, a busy weekend means I’m still not quite finished my Knitmas gift but I have another week so it should be fine. I cast on a hat on Thursday in the airport on my way to Brussels, but only got a few rounds done on the way home because I was too tired to concentrate after a really interesting and engaging workshop that day. Plus I had been up since 4.30 so couldn’t quite figure out the cabling.

Next weekend I’m attending a (non-work related) dyeing workshop run by the Irish Guild of Weavers, Spinners, and Dyers. I’m really excited because I’m fascinated in the process of designing a yarn. I will be learning about different methods of dying, different types of dyes and how different types of fibres react to dyes. And I’ll get to dye my own skein of yarn. I’m really excited about the workshop and I plan on brining a notebook and my camera so I can report back on how I got on.

It’s Knitmas!!!

You may have noticed that I haven’t shared any finished projects recently. There are a few reasons for this. I do have a few finished things to share, but during the week I’m rarely home in the daylight to take photos of them. And since the weather has taken a decidedly wintery turn the weekends aren’t much better. So I have a shawl and a hat to show off but no photos of them.

I’m also working on a Cladonia by Kirsten Kapur with Dublin Dye Company Swing Sock in ‘Library’ that I’ve teamed with madelinetosh tosh merino light in ‘Paper’. These two colourways go so well together and I love that the names are ‘Library’ and ‘Paper’. This shawl was fate.

But another reason I haven’t shared any finished projects is that I’m taking part in Knitmas, which is a secret gift exchange. So although I’ve been knitting away I can’t tell you about it. Knitmas is the most wonderful time of year – when Irish crafters treat each other to handmade gifts. So often knitters, and other crafters, are the ones giving thoughtful, handmade gifts and less often are on the receiving end of these crafty presents. I really love this gift exchange and have participated for the last few years.

There are four rules to Knitmas. You have to include something handmade in your present, you have to liberate some of your stash, you have to include some kind of treat and finally a surprise. I can’t tell you how much effort goes into these packages by the participants , and each year they get bigger and better.

We use Elfster to decide who draws whom. Elfster also means that we can ask anonymous questions which adds to the excitement. And we can chat on Twitter so we’re all pretty much whipped into a frenzy. The deadline for posting is December 1st and shortly after that photos of gifts start appearing on Twitter. This is so much part of the fun because the recipient still doesn’t know who their elf is so the sleuthing begins.

I really hope my Elf likes the gift that I’ve chosen to knit her and I’ll be sure to share some photos when the parcel is safely received. If you want to read more about the Knitmas gift exchange you can read this post from the Elfster blog that was published last year.