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Sunday, 11 September 2016

FO update - Grandmother's Flower Garden Shawl & Antler Cardigans

So the summer has been fairly busy for me - I've done loads of knitting and cast on quite a few projects but I wanted to share a few FOs that I have finished recently.

Firstly, I did another test knit for Clothes Line Designs (quiltercaroline on ravelry). She is designing a trio of shawls. The first design was the Veggie Garden shawl which I blogged about in the last post here and this test knit was the second in the series. The pattern comes with a 2 colour version and a single colour version (which I made) so it's good value for money. The single colour shawl uses just 100g of fingering weight yarn and I used the other colour of Artesano Alpaca silk that I  bought at Wonderwool to make it. The colour is called foxglove and it's a beautiful pink/purple colour. The pattern was a bit more mindful than the Veggie Garden Shawl with the changing lace sections and so you have to be a bit more mindful, but it was still a really enjoyable knit. It was also a very quick knit - I finished mine in just 3 and a half weeks.

This shawl is available until tomorrow (September 12th) with a discount so download the pattern from ravelry here. After that that the price will increase but it's still very reasonable. All the Clothesline Designs patterns are clearly written & charted and give clear stitch counts at the end of each sections. I can highly recommend them. 

The third pattern in the series is just being test knit now and it's another beauty. I'm test knitting again so watch this space.

Also this year, I have made 2 Antler Cardigans. The first was for my niece who is almost 2 in red, which I know is a colour that she really likes. I looked through my stash and discovered that I had quite a lot of red aran acrylic yarn which is best for my sister so she can easily throw them in the washing machine. I had the idea to try a cardigan with a different type of construction. The way that I learnt was from commercial patterns and therefore this meant mostly knitted flat and in pieces that after knitting would then need to be sewn together. I don’t really like sewing together much, do you? Having tried a Tin Can Knits pattern earlier this year when I made the Barley hat, I was inspired to make one of their cardigan designs. The patterns from Tin Can Knits are great because they go from baby sizes right through to large adult sizes. So that would mean I could get the pattern, try it on my niece and then if I really liked it I could potentially use it for me in the future.
I chose the Antler cardigan which is seamless in construction and worked from the bottom up. It has a beautiful cabled yoke. Tin Can Knits patterns also have excellent tutorials which meant I was encouraged to give it a go.

 The pattern seemed to fly off the needles! I knit it on the recommended needle size and the body is knit back & forth in one piece and the sleeves are knit in the round and then joined in. The only change that I made was that instead of knitting on dpns I knitted the sleeves in magic loop. I also looked through my selection of buttons and found I had some beautiful flower buttons that looked lovely when I sewed them on. I got them from Textile Garden when we went to the Yarn in The City Market Place last year. I’m really pleased with how it turned out and I liked the construction and the way it needed hardly any finishing. 

This one was age 1-2 years as it was for my youngest niece. Her sister who is almost 5 saw the cardigan and asked who it was for. When I told her it was for her sister she looked disappointed and she said, “But I like red!” It’s a good job I had quite a bit of this yarn. I decided to do one exactly the same. With hind sight that was perhaps not the best thing for my knitting mojo. Is there such a thing as second sock syndrome but for garments? However, I have finally finished it and it fits and she likes it. Perhaps next time I will change the pattern if she wants one the same colour!

Wednesday, 29 June 2016

FO: Veggie Garden Shawl

I was asked around the middle of May if I would like to do a test knit by Caroline (quiltercaroline) from Clothesline Designs. I've been wary in the past of offering to do test knits, particularly on designs that include a new-to-me technique due to the time element involved and because of how I feel about obligation knitting. However, the design in question was beautiful and I was eager to support Caroline as she is a designer that is local to where I live. Testers were asked to refrain from posting finished shawl pictures until the pattern was released. However, the pattern was released last Saturday so I can finally tell you about it!

Pattern: Veggie Garden by Clothesline Designs

Yarn: Artesano Alpaca Silk in Lilypad

Needles: 4mm Knitpro circulars with 24" cord

I had not really done much lace prior to this project apart from the easy criss-cross panels in the Mirabel shawl and simple lace borders. When I saw the pattern for the first time I was a bit apprehensive, but I needn't have been. The pattern was clearly set out and provided clear instructions both in a written out format and in charts for the lace and all stitches were clearly explained. Also once you had done a row or two of the lace it was easy to memorise and to read the knitting to see how the lace should go. The worrying thing with lace is that it doesn't really shine to it's full potential until you block it, but when it was blocked it really looked amazing. The pattern comes in 2 versions - one with a plain stockinette body and a patterned edge and the other with lace sections, which is the one that I did.

I bought the yarn last year at Wonderwool and have been waiting for the right project to come along. I enjoyed using it though and would use it again. I only paid £5 per 50g Skein so it was really reasonable too and with the silk it has a beautiful sheen.

I really enjoyed the shawl and am already thinking about trying the version with the plain body, perhaps in two different colours. I was looking through the projects that have been done by the other test knitters and there's one by Kristi from the In a Sknit podcast which is beautiful. She did the plain body version mostly n cream with just a slim border in a variegated yarn along the edge. Very beautiful.

If you want to make you own Veggie Garden shawl, head over to Ravelry where Caroline has a discount on the shawl which is available to the 15th July.

This was my first Clothesline Designs pattern but it won't be my last - in fact, this is a series of 3 and I will be testing the next one too based on Caroline's Grandmother's Flower Garden. It looks like it will be another stunner so watch this space!

Monday, 9 May 2016

FO: Mirabel Shawl

I actually finished another FO! I'm whipping through my WIPs! I mentioned it in my last post and I actually finished it on the 21st April, but as usual, life has gotten in the way and I  haven't had a chance to post it. I have marked it on my ravelry project page and shown pictures on Instagram (knit.purl.relax) so if you follow me there you'll have seen it. Here it is:

 Pattern: Mirabel by Delusional Knitter Designs

Yarn: DROPS Baby Merino in white, light grey & dark purple

Needles: 4mm Knitpro circulars

I had originally knitted along with the KAL that Angela from Delusional Knitter Designs ran when she released the pattern, but I couldn't get it finished in time. In fact, I have a bit of an issue when knitting shawls in a crescent shape in that it gets towards the end where the rows are really long and I lose my motivation. It's silly really when you're so close to the end but I got there eventually and the end result is just beautiful. I enjoyed the new-to-me elements in this shawl, namely the short rows, lace pattern and picot bind off. In fact, I loved the picot bind off - so easy and yet so effective! I will definitely use that again! Angela also is hosting the EPIC KAL and I was able to enter the shawl there as an EPIC Technique.

The pattern was clear and in sections, which works well as a motivator as you always want to knit to the next section to see what it will look like. There was also a clear stitch count at the end of each section which made it easy to follow your progress. I would say that if you have not done lace before you should try this one as it's really easy to follow. I did make an error in the second lace section but was able to tink back and correct it.

In terms of the yarn, I used DROPS Baby Merino which is inexpensive and I only used 1 ball of the light grey and the dark purple and only just went into 2 balls on the white. Sold as a 4ply, the yarn is actually quite plump so I adjusted my needle size accordingly. I'm pleased with the drape on the finished shawl. It's large when finished & blocked and can be worn either round the neck or around the shoulders. I've worn mine a few times already. I'm really pleased with it.

Since then I've been working on the Antler cardigan for my niece. I'm nearly finished that so will post details shortly.

Friday, 15 April 2016

FO: Barley Hat

After being stuck flitting between projects, I finally seem to have regained my knitting mojo a bit and have picked up my half made Barley hat and finished it!

Pattern: Barley by Tin Can Knits

Yarn: Eden Cottage Yarns Langdale Superwash Aran in Charcoal

Needles: 4.5mm & 5.5mm Knitpro circular needles

This pattern is from Tin Can Knits' Simple collection. They have a whole range of simple patterns that are free and which give amazing step by step instructions & tutorials. This was the first pattern I had tried from Tin Can Knits but it won't be the last! In fact I have already purchased the Antler cardigan pattern. I'm going to make a cardigan for my niece and then if it turns out OK and I enjoy the construction then I might make one for me. I used slightly bigger needles that it said on the pattern because on measuring my head I needed the largest size (I must have a big head! lol) but when I started knitting, it did not seem large enough using the needles suggested. Perhaps it was my gauge. I hadn't knit a hat in the round before so this was new for, although when it got to the part where you are supposed to change to dpns I magic looped instead.

The yarn was yummy. It was my first experience using Eden Cottage yarns and it's super soft and squishy. It's 100% merino, and I'm so pleased with how the hat came out, both in terms of the feel, colour, everything! And of course it's lovely to knit with.

Also I have been able to enter this into the EPIC Kal from the Revelations of a Delusional Knitter podcast. This KAL is running all year and you get a point for each of the four categories that your FO fits into. In this case I was able to get 2 points - 1 for Epic Age (because can you believe it I actually started it last year!) and 1 for Epic Pattern (there are a list of patterns on Ravelry that are the most knit and therefore Epic) 

I have started the Antler cardigan I mentioned just now, but I'm also picking up on my WIPs - I'm close to finishing the Mirabel shawl from Angela at Delusional Knitter designs and I want to finish that too. I hope I can keep up the momentum & motivation to finish a few more things!

Friday, 8 April 2016

FO Friday, stash acquisition & trip update

Hello! Happy Friday!

Finally after some time neglecting my knitting, my blog & you (sorry about that) I have finally finished something - yippee! Life outside of knitting has been pretty hectic with a lot going on to occupy both my time & my mind...I'm making some changes and hopefully all will settle down. In reflection of my busy mind my knitting has been hectic & unsettled too. I have loads of projects on the needles and I have been flitting from one new thing to the next getting nothing done. Do you ever get like that?

A couple of weeks ago we went out to visit my hubby's family in Portugal and that gave me the time to stop and reflect. Also with limited baggage space I only took one project so it forced me to focus and focus I did! I took a baby cardigan I have been making for my hubby's boss's new arrival. Well I say new but the baby arrived last November. My hubby only asked me to make something around new year so it's taken a while but I made size 6-9 months so hopefully it will be ok. It's a pattern from King Cole that I've used several times and is called "Girl's 4ply Coat" and I made it in baby 4ply from Tricots Brancal in Portugal. Very pretty but being quite plain I did get a bit bogged down this time. Perhaps it was because it was a bigger baby size but in 4ply, perhaps it was because it was mainly stocking stitch. It looks good though, I'm pleased with it.

Also while in Portugal we made a trip within a trip and visited Serra da Estrela. I was surprised to find it very snowy at the top (not sure why I was surprised!) The region has a lot of industry around the sheep. The regional cheese is made from sheep's milk and in the past there was a great history of wool spinning and fabric making in factories in Covilhã on one side of the mountain. We visited a cheese museum in Peraboa (which makes the same cheese under a different name due to DOP regulations) which described how they make cheese and had tasting (yummy!) We also went to the wool museum in Covilhã. I took loads of photos of the wool museum so I'll save that for another post but on the way between the two museums we happened upon these sheep crossing the road! Very topical!

I was surprised that there wasn't much option to buy local wool there. I had assumed with a history rich in this area that there would be yarn to buy. However, being quite busy where we were staying we took a diversion later I  the week via Coimbra. It wasn't really on the way back but it was a nice day out visiting the university and of course a yarn shop. I had salivate over a particular Portuguese yarn on Instagram and I was able to pick up some for me and some as gifts. It's called é lã portuguesa and the sport weight here is merino from Alentejo but the thicker qualities I believe contain a blend including the sheep from Serra da Estrela. Very exciting.

I got it very reasonably priced from Bolas de Tons. I was quite restrained and only came out with 6 balls! Two for me and two each for my mum and mother-in-law.  I'll be interested to see how it knits up.

That's all for now, I'll be back soon with pictures of my trip to the wool museum and an update on my many WIPs. Definitely going to try to focus on finishing a few off...

Monday, 4 April 2016

An Interview with Gemma from Rockabella Crafts UK

So now it's April already (the year is flying by!) and I have promised you an interview. So here it is. I spoke to Gemma at Rockabella Crafts UK after she opened her etsy store at the end of last year and she agreed to do this interview. She has just relaunched her podcast which you can find here and created a new Ravelry group. Here's what she had to say!

Photo kindly supplied by Gemma at RockabellaCraftsUK
Hello Gemma! It’s great to speak to you. I guess where I want to start is to ask how you got into knitting & crafting?

Hello Gill! Well, it all began with my nan, she was a very talented knitter and I used to sit next to her as she created the most wonderful cardigans and sweaters for the family. She taught me how to knit and hand sew, I spent hours looking through her sewing box at all the beautiful buttons she had. I have always been quite creative but I picked up knitting again about 6 years ago, from there I learnt how to crochet, machine sew and spin, there are so many wonderful crafts to explore, but knitting will always be my got to craft!

What was your first knitted project?

The first 'thing' I knitted was a scarf for my teddy in garter stitch, when I was about 6 years old. When I picked up the needles again a few years ago, the first item I knitted was a simple preemie hat for charity.

Photo kindly supplied by Gemma at RockabellaCraftsUK

What have you currently got on the needles?

Quite a few projects, and not ashamed to admit it! The biggest project I have on the needles right now is my sock yarn blanket. I've been participating in swaps this year, and have met some lovely people as well as beings let's add little squares to the blanket! I've also got some socks and a cardigan on the needles too, I love having different projects the needles.

What is your favourite yarn to use?

That's a tough one, I have a major soft spot for merino and nylon blends but I must say, if I'm doing a late project which calls for a lot of yardage I always choose Stylecraft, even though it's acrylic it is very soft yet hard wearing, and most importantly, affordable. My favourite fibre right now is Vegan Faux Cashmere by Spin City UK, the only way I can describe how it feels is by saying it feels like clouds. It truly is the softest thing I have ever laid my hands on, I absolutely adore it!

I really enjoy watching the podcast – what made you start podcasting?

Thank you! I love podcasts, the whole knitting and crafting community is such a wonderful one to be involved in, people are so helpful and kind. I find it quite therapeutic chatting about crafting and knitting in my podcasts, it's a good way to get all your thoughts. Although I don't podcast regularly, I really enjoy it and have met some incredibly talented people along the way.

Photo kindly supplied by Gemma at RockabellaCraftsUK
So, you’ve just opened your etsy shop and I’ve already made a project bag purchase (thanks for the enabling!) – can you tell me what other treats you have on offer?

I'm glad you liked it! I have lots of stitch markers and progress keepers available, I love having different charms for each project, it just adds a little bit of extra fun to it. They have been very popular and I always include them in my swaps too. Also available are some notions pouches and needle felted brooches.

Photo kindly supplied by Gemma at RockabellaCraftsUK
Do you have any other exciting crafty plans for the future?

Absolutely! There is always something I want to try! My husband bought me a spinning wheel for my birthday, so I have been doing lots of spinning lately, I started with a drop spindle but felt the need for a wheel, it's so relaxing. I also want to start dyeing my own fibre and yarn. I attended a hand dyeing workshop at the Bristol Wool Fair this year and it was so much fun, so would love to do more and even get some into my Etsy shop too to share. I go to a craft group every week and we get to try new crafts and techniques if we wish to, as well as drink tea and have a giggle, so I'm always trying new things.

Thanks Gemma, it was great speaking to you!

So go and check out Gemma's shop - I have bought a lovely project bag from her but she has a large range of stitch markers, some jewellery & even some hand dyed yarn.

I'll be back soon with a WIP update and an FO...finally!

Happy knitting!

Sunday, 7 February 2016

February already - WIP Update

Where did January go?

I truly intended to have written more posts by now and knitted more items. January was a whirlwind with a lot going on in my life and it's left little time to focus on knitting. My mind just could not focus and that is visible in the number of WIPs now on the needles! And yet, what I really should have been doing to steady myself is knit, but sometimes it's hard to settle - do you know what I mean?

I intended to tell you about some of the things I'm hoping to knit and achieve in 2016. I want to knit a few more things for me. I have several cardigans on the needles and it would be great to finish at least one of them! I would like to expand my knowledge and learn some new things. I've already begun with expanding my knitting in the round knowledge and I am half way through knitting the Barley hat from Tin Can Knits in Eden Cottage Yarn Langdale Superwash Aran. The tutorials on the Tin Can Knits site & the patterns are really thorough and I'm enjoying it a lot. I'm approaching the decreasing so not long now!

I cast this on between Christmas and New Year and I feel like I should have finished it already, but I have had a lack of focus and a bad case of start-itis! It does fall into a KAL that is running for the whole of this year which is the Epic KAL from Revelations of a Delusional Knitter. For this KAL there are several categories - Epic Techniques where you learn something new, Epic Patterns where you make one of the top Ravelry patterns (as listed by Angela in the Ravelry forum), Epic Age which is finishing a WIP started last year, and Epic Yardage where the total yardage is over 800 yards. A project can fall into several categories and the Barley hat is both Epic Age and Epic Technique for me. Then you post your finished objects and keep a total of your points, with extra points available if your project is Star Wars related. Finishing a Cardigan would fit in here too and I have a shawl on the needles from last year, that would also qualify (if I ever get around to finishing anything!)


I have also cast on a cardigan for me, in Sirdar Click Chunky. I've had the yarn for ages, but just haven't gotten around to casting on, Well now I have cast on and done about 4 inches of the back. I've been distracted again!

I promised my hubby I would make a baby cardigan for his bosses baby that was born around September last year. He's just reminded me, but now, as I've procrastinated and left it, I have to make a large size, which is taking longer. I'm making this one in pale pink 4ply from Tricots brancal. I've been trying to focus myself a bit more on this one and have managed the back and one front and now I've started on the second front. So not too bad. I just need to stop procrastinating and keep knitting!

Also on my radar is the new pattern for Delusional Knitter Designs called Mirabel. I've bought the pattern and Angela from the Revelations of a Delusional Knitter podcast has a KAL for the pattern starting on February 15th. It's got lots of techniques I've not done before and is in sections, which appeals to me. I'm still deciding if I will do the KAL or knit it in my own time. I really want to - perhaps it would focus my mind a little bit! If I do then I really need to sort out the yarn! Morning Bright Yarns are doing some lovely kits for the shawl, but being based in the US, I have to factor in postage and duty. I think I will get some yarn from the UK if I do it, or sort out something from my stash.

I got some yarn in the January sales too from Eden Cottage Yarn which I have earmarked for the Brioche for Beginners cowl from Emma Galati, and some beautiful Sapphire travelknitter yarn (not sure what it will be yet) and my mother-in-law sent me some more Tricots brancal yarn which I have earmarked to make Baltic Summer by Martina Behm. See, I have lots of ideas! I'd like to perhaps design/improvise on some projects too. We'll have to see how the year goes.

I do have a surprise for you for my next post though. I have an interview with a lovely friend, podcaster and fellow blogger...I'll leave you to guess who until next time!

Happy Knitting!