Great Ambition

I’ve only knitted a couple of smaller colourwork pieces before (my arrow pompom hat and my acorns teeth mittens), but I’ve always wanted to do more. I was thinking of a jersey, but when I saw these amazing colourwork mittens pop up on Instagram I immediately knew I would be making a pair for my sister for her birthday this year…

They’re called Lion, Badger, Eagle, Snake, by Dianna Walla. I had to make her the Great Ambition ones, and though I don’t get her love for Slytherin (they’re basically hitler youth, right?) I do love their colour scheme! I bought a skein each of Quince and Co Finch yarn in Boreal and in Kumleins Gull, and I’m really pleased with those choices. I think that Boreal is the perfect dark green and really makes the light grey stand out. Finch is really nice to knit, my stitches came out beautifully crisp and clear! I managed to knit both mittens easily out of a single skein of each, which was nice. I’ll need to figure out a project to use the random lengths of 4 ply yarn I’ve been accumulating…

This pattern is really great, full of little details that make knitting them really fun! I find knitting colourwork really satisfying, I always want to carry on with another row just to see the pattern emerging. I did get a mild case of second sock syndrome when it came time to knit the second mitten, but I gave it a week or so and managed to get back into it!

The only change I made to the pattern was to leave the tops off the thumbs, I knew that they’d never get worn if they weren’t smartphone friendly! I knitted to the point where the decreases start, and then knitted three rounds of ribbing to stop them rolling. I also knitted the cuffs in 1×1 rib instead of 2×2, but that’s just because I didn’t read the pattern carefully enough and then decided I didn’t care enough to rip it back and change it…I prefer 1×1 rib anyway! I do wish I had looked up how to knit jogless stripes for the cuffs, that would have looked better than having that step at the beginning of each stripe.

The pattern is written in such a way that there aren’t very many places where there will be big floats left on the inside, but there are a few so I had to be careful to remember to catch those long floats up so they didn’t get snagged on fingernails or rings! I always love how the wrong side of colourwork projects look, it’s very satisfying. I did find that these ended up a bit smaller than the schematic, but that’s a good thing as my sister has pretty narrow hands! I did manage to stretch them out a bit when I blocked them, so it’s all good. I think my gauge in stockinette colourwork is tighter than it would be in plain stockinette, which is something I need to remember…

I might need to knit myself some Ravenclaw ones next!

2018 Winter Jumper

I keep saying I probably don’t need any more hand knitted jumpers, but I don’t seem to be able to stop myself knitting them… I’m averaging one per winter, so I suppose that rate of output isn’t too radical. And I gave my Lila Sweater to my sister earlier in the year because the alpaca blend yarn I used made me really itchy, so I had a space for a simple jumper in my wardrobe. Have I justified myself enough yet?

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This is the Mossbank Sweater by Kerry Robb, published by Brooklyn Tweed. It’s a really simple pattern, but it has a lovely shape. I love the set in sleeves and the little bit of shaping through the front and back waist so that it isn’t just straight up and down. The sample is knitted using a marled yarn for the body with contrast bands and cuffs, and to be honest I bought it thinking that there was some special trick to knitting a marl sweater(any yes, I realise how stupid that sounds now!). I was pretty disappointed to realise that it was just knitted with a Brooklyn Tweed marled yarn! I can’t have been thinking clearly when I hit purchase… I decided to knit it anyway, because it’s the shape I prefer in my jumpers.

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I knitted this in my favourite yarn, Zealana Heron in Bottle Green. The dark green is beautiful, I’m so into dark green at the moment. I’ve waxed lyrical about this wool/possum blend before, I used it for my Bronwyn Sweater and also for the scarf I knitted Hamish for his birthday one year. It’s so soft and warm, I love it! It also works really well in the reverse stockinette stitch that the pattern calls for, the nubbly purl stitches and the slightly fuzzy yarn gives it a lovely texture. It also blooms wonderfully with wet-blocking, and just made everything look even and really nice.

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I’m not that great at seaming my hand knits, I never do it tightly or evenly enough, but I’m pretty happy with how this one turned out, especially the armscye seams. My Aunt mentioned that she used to seam her hand knits using her sewing machine, which blew my mind a little bit! Has anyone tried that? I’m also really happy with how my tubular cast on hems worked, even though I haaate knitting them. I find it really counter-intuitive, and I’m always convinced it’s going to fall apart when I remove my waste yarn! It hasn’t happened yet though, so it obviously works…

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Something I’ve noticed with my older hand knit jumpers is that the neckband tends to stretch out over time, and I hate the way they sag at the nape of my neck. I’ve ripped back and re-knitted some of my older neckbands recently, and I’ve just done a basic rigid bind off instead of a special stretchy bind off. It seems to do a better job at stabilising the neck, and I haven’t had any trouble getting them over my head, so that’s what I did here instead of the tubular cast off recommended for the pattern. For further stability, I also hand sewed a length of Liberty bias tape (from The Fabric Store) along the shoulder seams and across the back neckline. I’m hopeful that this’ll help to stop any stretching, and I also think it looks really pretty!

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I’ve worn this jumper a heap since I finished it last month! It’s super warm, and is great for layering. It took me way longer than I expected to knit (I started it at Easter!), those rows and rows of stockinette were pretty dull…worth it in the end though! I’ve already started a 4ply spring/summer jumper, I think I might need to find some more storage for my growing collection…

(See it on my Ravelry page here)

Adventures in Brioche (knitting, not cake)

I had planned to start this post with a bit of waffle about how I had knitted a cowl that was perfect for crisp Autumn mornings and keeping me warm while waiting for the train, which would all have been true, but last week it seemed we had skipped autumn entirely and plunged straight into winter! We had hail and freezing southerly gales blowing straight off the fresh snow on the southern alps, as well as spectacular thunder storms, it was all very dramatic and unexpected!

This is the Gully Cowl, knitted in Brooklyn Tweed’s laceweight Vale yarn. It’s lovely and smooth and soft, and I love how squishy and three dimensional it is in this brioche stitch pattern! I initially meant to pick the pale pink version of this yarn (Arabesque), but I put the wrong colour into the Holland Road Yarn website when I was buying it and ended up with this slightly darker, muddier pink (called Barberry). I actually love it, on reflection the pale pink might have been a bit too wish wishy-washy for my pasty winter face!

This pattern really challenged me, having never knitted brioche before! Getting into the slip stitch/yarn over rhythm took a while, and then once I had my head around that I found it nearly impossible to undo any mistakes I made! The extra loops from the brioche yarn-overs just confused me when I was trying to TINK back to any errors, and I just got into a terrible mess.  I must have ripped it back and started again about three times before I wised up and started adding a lifeline. I had about three lifelines running though my knitting at any one time, once I realised how much it sucked to find a mistake after you had moved your lifeline up…

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I love the Art Deco inspired shaping and curves in this cowl, its just beautiful! The cowl is knitted flat and then stretch blocked before being seamed. I actually hesitated briefly before knitting this because it was seamed, which is patently ridiculous as the seam is only about 30cm long. Not at all the same as seaming a jumper or anything tedious like that! I used blocking wires to stretch the finished cowl out to the dimensions in the schematic, and I love how straight the edges turned out, it made the seaming even easier.

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I love how this cowl turned out, it really will be the perfect lightweight scarf for chilly spring or autumn mornings. I found it was useful even in the freezing driving rain we had this week, as it’s small and lightweight enough to tuck inside the collar of my fully zipped up raincoat. It stayed dry, unlike a my regular scarves which tend to get wet and then slap me in the face with a soggy end, and it was insulating enough to keep the southerly from blowing into my hood and down the back of my neck. I enjoyed knitting the brioche too, once i got my head around how it worked! I’m considering making another version of this pattern but using the beautiful skein of 4 ply MadTosh merino light I have in my stash. I can’t see any reason why it wouldn’t work, as long as I size up my needles appropriately, right? It’ll just be a bigger version of this one, hopefully!

Mini Making

I’ve reached the age where my friends are all starting to have babies (which is lovely, but alarming. I’m sure we aren’t old enough for these things. Yes I know I’ve just turned 30, shh). Obviously, I’m using this as an opportunity to make lots of tiny cute things for them! I’ve given two sets of gifts so far, so I’ll post about those ones now and the other ones later, so that I don’t spoil the surprise in the unlikely event that the recipients read my blog…

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First up is this super cute little jumper. It’s the Livingston pattern by Nadia Cretin-Lechenne, which I fell in love with when I saw Abbey Morris post her version on instagram. I love the cute button up neck and the loopy texture on the front panel, and it was a fun wee pattern to make. I couldn’t figure out how the stitch pattern worked until I started knitting, but you slip two stitches for two rows, and then move them two stitches to either side with a cable needle on the third row. Simple and effective! Knitting the front flap was easier than I expected, though I did have to fudge it a little bit and do some tidying up at the edges of the openings when I sewed the ribbing down at the bottom of the openings on either side.

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I used Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino for the first time on this project, and it is so nice to knit with! It’s so soft, and the stitch definition is lovely. I initially bought two balls, intending to make the newborn size, but my friend is having a large baby according to her recent scans so I decided to make the 3 month size instead! I had to put a rush order in to get another ball so I could finish it in time for her baby shower, but it all worked out fine! He’s due at the end of the month, so if the sizing is right we’ll be in the middle of winter when he fits it, which would be perfect. I picked some plastic tortoiseshell-ish buttons out of my stash, I like that they’re fairly neutral but not boring.

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To finish off the gift I made up a couple of pairs of tiny sweatpants using some merino sweatshirting left over from my other projects. I used the Streaky Legs pattern from Ottobre Magazine (Spring issue 1 Kids from 2015), there are so many good patterns in that magazine! These pants are super simple, just two pattern pieces (front/back and cuff), and they’re so cute. The sizing is done by measuring the height of the child, which is a bit tough when a) you’re making a gift, and b) the kid is still in utero, but I had a guess and hopefully they’ll fit! Stupidly I didn’t look at the instructions, because they were so simple, but if I had checked I would have noticed that there were no seam allowances included in the pattern. Unfortunately I didn’t pick that up until I was checking to see how much elastic to put in the waistband. Being a European pattern from a magazine I should have expected that there were no seam allowances, so it was a bit stupid of me. Hopefully they’ll fit for a little while at least!

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For my other baby gift I made up a couple of baby bibs and a little sun hat in some super cute matching cotton. I love that there are lots of uses for craft cottons when making baby stuff, there are so many gorgeous prints that I would never use otherwise! I used two free patterns, the Purl Soho Bib and the Oliver + S Bucket Hat. Both patterns were really easy to use, and I love the results for each!

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I chose a woodland themed cotton from Stitchbird Fabrics for these gifts, as the baby I was making them for is a Canadian/Kiwi and I thought he would appreciate the bears and squirrels (eventually). I paired the cotton with more remnants from my stash, the orange is the left over linen from my Harvest Tee. I thought it was a slightly unexpected colour to pair with the muted colours of the cotton, but it matches the squirrels and deer and I liked the contrast!

The bibs were a very quick and easy sew. I used a scrap of blue drill (left over from Hamish’s first Jedediah shorts, I think) and sewed on a patch with my favourite bear on it, so that everything wasn’t too visually similar. For the backing I used a nice squishy cotton sweatshirting, with the looped side facing out. I just couldn’t find toweling anywhere, and buying a towel to cut up seemed messy and a bit wasteful when I could just use sweatshirting! Hopefully it’ll do the job just fine…

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It turns out sewing baby gear is a great stash buster, I’m so glad I’ve been holding onto all of my merino scraps! baby stuff is nice and quick to sew up too, perfect for fitting in around other projects. Expect to see a few more teeny garments being made in the next few months…

Waverly and Lark

Well, I’m still without my laptop! It’s such a pain, I’ve got three biggish projects photographed and ready to blog, but I can’t edit my photos until I get it back. First world blogging issues for sure! In the meantime, here is a quick little post to show off a recently finished knitting project and (another) Lark tee.


Apparently I was feeling very stern when I took these photos…

Knitting first! This is the Waverly Scarf pattern from Knitbot, which came as a free download with her latest book, Texture (though I see you can now buy it on Ravelry). I really love a lot of the patterns in Texture, I’m currently knitting the Eventide Cardi, but I was especially taken with the basket weave texture of this scarf so I knitted it first!


I used Quince and Co Osprey in the Canvas colourway, which is exactly the same as the sample. Such originality! I wanted another neutral scarf that wasn’t grey, and this cream/beige/nude colour is perfect. It goes with everything, but I think it looks especially nice with navy! Because it’s a 12 ply yarn it knitted up pretty quickly, though I have found that the resulting fabric is really dense and sometimes sits away from my neck if I don’t get it sitting just right when I put it on. I haven’t blocked it yet, because it’s been cold and I’ve been wearing it, but once the weather warms up I’ll wet block it and hopefully that’ll relax the stitches a bit.


Another thing that I think adds to it’s stiffness is the way the edges roll in, it just makes it a bit more bulky instead of draping around my neck. Again, hopefully blocking will sort that out! Regardless, it’s a lovely scarf and it’s kept me super warm this winter. I find that the loose ends of my Guernsey Wrap blow around (and off, sometimes), but obviously that isn’t a problem with Waverly!



I’ve finally photographed this merino Lark tee! Instagram tells me I made it last August, and I’ve worn it lots in the last year. It’s the long sleeved boat neck version, obviously. Because I had a bit of trouble with the neckline sagging on my previous version, I used a self fabric facing instead of turning and stitching. It’s worked really well, the neckline is still sitting perfectly.


The Fabric is a lovely fine merino from Drapers Fabrics in Auckland, I was so happy to see a nice striped merino! I’ve found that a lot of the striped merino around tends to be light colours or really narrow stripes, but this one is perfect. 


Hopefully I won’t be needing all of my winter woolies for too much longer, but I’m glad to have these ones in my wardrobe!

Knitting season

It’s winter! That means I have to stop bitching about it being cold (because it’s supposed to be), and I get to wrap myself in wool without feeling like I’m overdressed. I knitted both of these items a while ago, the scarf was finished in June last year and the hat in March this year, so I’m hoping I remember the details of both projects! I really should start keeping better notes on Ravelry…

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First up is the scarf, which is one of my favourite hand knitted things! It’s the Guernsey Wrap pattern from Brooklyn Tweed, in Brooklyn Tweed Shelter. I had never knitted with BT yarn before, it’s quite different to other yarn I’ve used. It’s much woolier, if that makes sense, almost sticky and lumpy and very sheep-y! I was a little concerned about it being scratchy, but once I blocked it it softened up beautifully. And it’s so warm! I’m not sure I’ll be knitting much with BT yarn (it’s super expensive in NZ, might need to stick to hats), but I’m glad I used it for this scarf.

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The Guernsey Wrap pattern is lovely, it’s written for both worsted and DK weight yarn and the texture comes from knit/purl patterns which makes it quick and simple to knit. I love the blocks of texture, its quite subtle but looks interesting and kept it fun to knit. It’s a massive scarf, it took nearly all of the 5 skeins of yarn recommended and barely fit in my project bag towards the end! The pattern calls for ”extreme blocking”, where the scarf is hand washed and the stretched out on blocking wires much more than you would when blocking in the usual way. I ended up stretching it another 10” lengthwise!

 

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Before and after my extreme blocking

You can see how much bigger it is post-block! This extreme stretching gave what was a pretty dense fabric a lovely lightness and drape, which makes it much easier to wear. I tend to wear it wrapped around twice, I can tuck each end into the collar of my coat and it keeps me so warm and cosy on my pre-dawn trip to the train station!

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The other thing keeping me warm is this hat! I knitted this over the summer, from the book “Knitting from the North” by Hilary Grant. I love Hilary Grant’s knitwear (I’m going to try to buy one of her scarfs when I’m in Scotland later in the year!), so I was super excited to get a book of her patterns. I’m still pretty unfamiliar with fairisle knitting, having only ever tried it once, so I thought I would go simple with a two colour hat to start off with! It’s knitted in the round with no shaping, and is then gathered to form the crown. This made it easy to knit, but does mean some of the pattern is obscured in the gathering. I struggled a little bit with keeping my tension even, there are a couple of fairly tight strands where the floats get longer, but it’s not too bad.

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I used Zealana Yarn’s Kauri for this, it’s their 4 ply ‘performance’ yarn which is supposed to be machine washable. I haven’t tested this, but I thought it sounded good for a hat! its a possum/wool/silk blend, and it’s lovely and warm and soft, but the halo from the possum is possibly not the best for colourwork. It did make a lovely dense fluffy pompom though!

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I did find a few discrepancies between the colour work chart and the photographs of the samples in the book. There is a set of chevrons missing between every other arrow on the chart, but that was easy enough to draw into the pattern so that it matched the pictures! I don’t know if that was intentional or if it was an error, but again it was an easy fix. The only other thing I changed was to do a tubular cast on, because it gives such a nice edge to the brim! I think knitting a double thickness brim would also be nice on the hats in this book, since the fairisle knitting gives the body of the hat a double thickness of yarn all the way up.

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So there we go, more winter woolies to get me through the next few months! I’ve finished another scarf since finishing these, but it needs blocking before I can get some photos of it. I’d like to knit another hat, but once I do that I think I’ll be pretty set for this winter (except for socks, I have plenty of those planned!). Do you have any hat patterns you would recommend?

Unselfish Knitting

It’s a bit weird, I absolutely hate sewing for other people, but I rather like unselfish knitting. Maybe it’s because I know that there are only so many hand knitted things I need for myself, but I really like the process of knitting, so knitting gifts gets around that problem. I also find that people really appreciate hand knitted gifts (or maybe I only knit for people I know will appreciate it), which is always nice. I decided I was going to knit a scarf for Hamish for his birthday…last year. I got it done on time too, but it’s taken me just over a year to get photographs of it! Such a bad blogger.

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This is another Brooklyn Tweed pattern, the Guilder Scarf by Jared Flood. It was the first thing I made in Zealana Heron, and it definitely made me want to knit my Bronwyn Sweater in it! I picked the Bottle Green colourway, I thought it would be more interesting than grey or black (which is mostly what he wears in the winter), and I like the way it looks on him.

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This was an ambitious pattern for me to pick a year ago, the cable pattern is pretty dense and it took me a lot longer to knit than I expected! To be honest, I was wildly optimistic and decided I was going to knit this a month out from his birthday, so any pattern was going to be a stretch. I must have worked on it every spare minute of that month, trying to keep it hidden from him was a nightmare! This pattern taught me a bunch of new techniques, it was the first time I had done a tubular cast on and tubular cast off, and the first time I tried knitting an I-cord. The I-cord edging is a really nice feature of this pattern, it looks so tidy and I love how it matches the rounded edge created by the tubular cast on/off.

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I did manage to get it finished in time, though I was sewing the Kitchener stitch for the bind off on my way home from work on his birthday! I think it was only wrapped up for about 20 minutes between me finishing it and me giving it to him over his birthday dinner. Consequently, it’s unblocked. I meant to block it after giving it to him, but unsurprisingly I’ve never got around to it. It’s actually pretty even, and doesn’t look like it desperately needs it! He wore it lots last winter, and when I realised that he’d taken it away with us at Easter, I took my chance to get some photos at last.

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I also took my chance to get some photos of one of the merino tee shirts I made him for Christmas. The pattern is the Men’s Classic Tee Shirt pattern from the Great British Sewing Bee Fashion with Fabric book. It’s a slightly drop shouldered tee pattern with sleeve cuffs, which I have just hemmed like usual because they kept unfolding and were driving him nuts. I’ve made him three tee shirts from this pattern now, they fit him pretty well and he wears them all the time. This one looks too tight and wrinkly in these pictures, but I think it’s just a bit twisted because he took his jumper off just before I took these photos! It is a slim fitting tee-shirt, which he likes. This one and the first one I made are sewn up in merino jersey from The Fabric Store, and the third is made in a really lightweight merino loop-backed sweatshirting. I sewed them all up on the overlocker, and used a twin needle for hemming and top stitching the neckbands.

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I’m really glad he likes both the scarf and the tee shirts, it’s nice to see him wearing things I’ve made. He wanted to know how I wanted him to wear the scarf for his “photo shoot”, and I told him to just wear it like he usually did. Then I looked up from fiddling with the camera to find him like this, so naturally I took a photo and told him I was putting it on the internet. At least his ears/nose won’t be getting cold this winter! I also told him he didn’t need to put his jumper on for these photos (it was pretty warm), and he told me that he’d look ridiculous, as he’d never wear a scarf with bare arms. So that was me told! I’ll need to get him to style my photo shoots sometimes…