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?

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Festive Sewing part 2: Secret Santa Scarf (maybe…)

I’m really not sure how I feel about my post today! Its supposed to be my gift for our work Secret Santa swap, but I’m not sure if it’ll be appropriate…I don’t know the girl who’s name I pulled out of the hat (ok, it was a kidney dish, cos that’s how we roll in theatre), and I’m not sure if its the sort of thing she’s wear! I quite like it, but I’m willing to admit that pink pom poms may not be for everyone. Its especially hard to tell when you only ever see each other in blue scrubs!

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I made the scarf out of the remains of the fabric from the dress I am currently making, its a lovely soft Italian cotton lawn from The Fabric Store. I really wanted navy pom pom trim, after seeing the pom pom trimmed scarf tutorial on Indiesew, but apparently no one in Wellington stocks pom pom trim in sensible colours like navy or grey, and black or white didn’t look right. So I went with pale pink, which I thought would be a nice contrast but not too childlike.

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I had a bit of a brain fail trying to sew the scarf together, I sewed the whole lot inside out, then tried to turn it through a hole in the seam. I must have been tired, because that was obviously never going to work! I ended up with a pom pom trimmed tube, like a muff. After a bit of swearing, I got it back inside out, and unpicked the long seam. That was a total bastard to unpick, because the trim meant I couldn’t just pull lengths of the thread out, I had to undo it stitch by stitch! Once I had it unpicked, I just folded under the raw edge and topstitched it over the pom pom tape. Its not quite as neat, but it looks ok.

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I think its quite cute, but I’m not sure it’ll make a great gift. What do you guys think? Does it look too much like a pillowcase? Will it be a confusing present, should I just go with the Body Shop stuff I bought originally? I am deeply conflicted here!

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Meanwhile, I thought I would participate in the Top Five annual roundup which is hosted by Gillian from Crafting a Rainbow. I’ll do Highlights today, and then combine Hits and Misses, and Goals and Reflections. So…

Top 5 Highlights of my year (in no particular order)

-Starting a new job! I did love working in a big public hospital, but I think i love having regular working hours and not having to work weekend, evening and nightshifts more. I miss (some of) my colleagues, and I sometimes miss the excitement, but I do enjoy how busy and stable my new job is.

-My summer trip around the West Coast. It was awesome to see parts of the country I hadn’t visited before, and it was really nice spending time with Monsieur’s extended family.

-Getting through my first year of big girl post graduate study. I was pretty unsure about the course when I started, but by the end of the second trimester I was really enjoying it, and I’m looking forward to my papers next year. I’m working towards a Masters in Information Studies, if you’re interested!

-Getting the ball rolling on looking for a house of our own. The house hunting process has been a bit soul destroying, and missing out on a house you really want sucks, but its all a learning curve, and I can’t wait until we find (and actually manage to buy) our first home. Then I’ll be a real adult, right?

-Starting and maintaining this blog! I’ve met some seriously awesome people in the online sewing community, and I don’t know if I would have kept up with my weekly challenges or made such a huge variety of garments without your support and the incredible amount of inspiration you all provide! So thank you all 🙂

Finally, this week I was invited to become a part of the Wellington Sewing Bloggers Network, or WSBN, which is very exciting! I’m looking forward to drinking tea and having sewing geek outs with the rest of the ladies in the group in the new year.

Autumn is here!

Ack, it is so much colder this week, summer really did just give up as soon as it was allowed! I’m not too sad though, because I love winter clothes and hats and scarfs and boots. This week I whipped up a really quick cowl/scarf using the scraps of cotton knit left over from my Briar teeshirt. I had a bit of a disaster with my Briar (I accidentally put it through a hot wash, and the beautiful rose gold polka dots turned silver! Its not the end of the world, but the silver doesn’t go as well with the creamy nude base colour of the fabric), so I’m glad that I had enough fabric pieces left over to make something else.

My photos today are all really sketchy, I had trouble with my flash and getting enough ambient light, and my face looks really weird in pretty much every photo! I was also taking them in a rush before sitting down for my first online lecture of the trimester. Its just as well I didn’t take them after the lecture, because I’m pretty sure I would have looked a bit shell shocked! But anyway…

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I made the scarf as long as I could, piecing together a few different patches of fabric, so I can loop it around three times so that it fills in the neck of my coat, or just twice if I don’t need it to be quite so warm. I love how soft and snugly the fabric feels when its wrapped around three times though, it was nice when I was waiting for the bus at the crack of dawn in an arctic southerly wind this morning!

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These are the only even remotely reasonable photos I managed to get! I tried taking some mirror selfies, and this is what I ended up with…

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…so I thought I would give it up as a bad job, and go and learn about the digital divide and the information revolution instead. I was going to try and take some better photos after dinner, but then I spilled chilli on my scarf, and now I’m just going to go to bed before I fall down the stairs or something…