Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Lovely Post

I got some lovely post yesterday. It arrived with things I didn't have to pay for, which is always nice, but the things that came were also very lovely.

The first thing I got was from Nadia at Abso-Knitting-Lutely. She had a give away for a braid of Malabrigo Nube in the Arco Iris colourway - and I won! I was really happy about this because when Nube first came out I bought two braids in the - yes you've guessed it - Arco Iris colourway!

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So I have this braid to add to my two existing ones. I should be able to spin a decent yardage.


The second photo is probably more accurate, but they are still different dye lots, so I shall have to be careful. I bought this colour because I made a Brickless in Malabrigo Rastita in this colourway. The yarn is a DK weight singles yarn in the same merino as the Nube.


I bought the fibre intending to make a hat and mitts to match the shawl, but now I have three braids I'm beginning to re-think what I should make.  I don't know whether to stick to my intention of trying to spin my first singles yarn, or whether to try something different.  Any ideas of how to spin this gorgeous fibre are very gratefully received.

The second parcel I received was a complete surprise, as I wasn't told it was coming. It gave me quite a giggle. For those who don't listen to my podcast, you are probably unaware that I recently decided to try doing a video version to try and cut down on the amount of time it took to edit and prepare. It worked out really well and I subsequently did another, and will probably continue in this format. If you are interested, it is available on YouTube, iTunes and on the website under the Podcast button at the top of the page. Anyway, in the first episode I shared some fibre that I bought from Fondant Fibre.

A: Organic Merino Silk & Baby Llama (Beach Huts) B: Silk Hankies (One Tequila, Two Tequila...) C: Polwarth & Mulberry Silk

When I shared these purchases with the podcast I said that none of these colourways are typical of my choices and that often Deb creates colours that I usually hate but absolutely adore in the way she does them.

So you can almost guess my reaction when I opened my package and saw the colourway label before unwrapping the contents. The name was Not Chrissy's Colours. I laughed out loud before I cooed over the contents.

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They are made up of my favourite Polwarth, Falkland, Silk and Bamboo. Aren't they pretty and really NOT my colours!  I started straight away.

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Sorry for the poor quality photo, it was an Instagram snap last night.  By the way if you are on Instagram, come and follow me so I can follow you back, as I am addicted to this form of social media. 

Spinning long draw from Deb's punis is always such a dream. It's so easy to draft these punis and once again I cannot say enough good things about the preparation and how easy and pleasurable it is to spin them. I am spinning without plan for the pure pleasure of it, as my other two spinning projects require a little more thought and control.

I can't decide yet whether the laugh, or the pleasure from spinning, I got I made me happier. Maybe it was a wonderful combination of the two! I do love it when the postman brings parcels!

Friday, 12 September 2014

Mayura Shawl in Wollmeise Pure

Mayura 08

Mayura by CrystalRose is an unusual shawl that I loved knitting, despite a few hiccups. It's so different from the usual semi-circular shawls that are available and I knew it would look great with the yarn I had. The yarn I had was Wollmeise Pure in the colours, Turkis (the blue) and Sanguinella (the dark orange).  Oh, how I love this yarn. It's soft and bouncy and beautifully colourful. It's a sock weight yarn in 100% superwash merino and each skein is 150g, 525m in length. They are very generous skeins.

© Matt Lord, from the pattern by CrystalRose

I had originally decided to add these two skeins to one I already had in stash, and make up a stole in three colours. Then I saw the above photo for this pattern and knew it was too much of a coincidence to pass over the match in colour choice.

The pattern is written to be either knit with the main colour being done in either stocking stitch or garter stitch. I love garter stitch shawls so that made the decision for me.  I really liked the the shape of the start of this top down shawl, with the nice curve to sit around the back of the neck.

Mayura 05

I would like to say that you should watch out for the colours the pattern assigned to the main colour and the contrast colour. The contrast colour is the one that actually uses the most amount of yarn, in this case the Sanguinella (orange).  I ended up going wrong by mixing up the colours I should have been knitting and had to rip back around 12 rows, which frustrated me a little.

The pattern uses mitred squares to add to the chevron shaping and to perform increases in a very clever way. I really like the shape it gives the stripes of colour.

Mayura 07

When knitting the mitred squares, I decided to change the way I picked up the edges to attach the squares to the body of the shawl. You pick up one of the bottom edges on the right side and the other bottom edge on the wrong side of the shawl. In the pattern you pick up and knit on both sides of the shawl, instead I picked up and knit on the right side and picked up and purled on the wrong side. This meant both the ridges of picked up stitches were on the wrong side of the fabric. The front of the shawl looks like the photo below.

Mayura 04

You can see what the picked up stitches ridges look like on the wrong side of the shawl, below. I'm glad that I kept the appearance of the edges of the mitred squares balanced and hidden.

Mayura 03

The way the shawl is structured meant that there were sections that were mindless knitting, livened up by the chevrons and the colour changes. This is interspersed by the interesting sections of the mitred squares. It was a great shawl for reading whilst knitting for long sections and then it was thinking knitting for a time. It made for a nice balanced knit.

Mayura 01

The bind off is crocheted. I would recommend removing the stitch markers on the row before the bind off.  As it was not specified on the pattern what size crochet hook to use, I decided to use a 3mm hook. Using this size, I was struggling to get the hook into the stitches on the needle, so I swapped out the needle tip to a 2.75mm. For information, I used a 3.5mm needle to knit the pattern, which was the one recommended.

Mayura 02

Now this is blocked, I can say with confidence, if I ever cast on a project that uses a chained bind off, someone remind me that blocking it nearly killed me. It took a gazillion pins and far too long hunched over the blocking boards. Not fun, but it had to be finished once started. It was worth all the effort though because it made the shawl look great, now it is blocked properly.

Mayura 09

There were several errors in this pattern that I had to tell the designer about and there were a few places where there could have been clearer instructions. I think this was because it was a complicated concept and there have been so few people who have knitted this so far. I think I was the first person other than the designer and the test knitters to make this shawl. I think in the future I might try to avoid patterns with so few finished projects, because I prefer someone else find out all the errors, before I have to.

Still, I can't help but be really happy with the finished shawl. It hits me right where I want, just below my elbows so I'm kept nicely wrapped up. With a shawl pin, it's almost a poncho! It gives a nice level of coverage, being sock weight knit in garter stitch. It's light, but has a little more warmth than a stocking stitch shawl. I think it will be perfect for cooler weather and for wearing indoors in Winter as an extra layer instead of a cardigan.

Despite the errors, this shawl can't help but make me smile, with it's lovely yarn, vivid colours and fun design. But I'm still never using a crochet bind off EVER again!

PS writing this post has made me want more Wollmeise, so I have just been to buy some more to replace the yarn I've just used. That's really not helping me use all my stash up!

Friday, 5 September 2014

Antarktis in Countess Ablaze Geeks Like Rainbows Too Handspun Yarn

If you follow me on Instagram, Twitter or my Facebook Page you will have seen a photo yesterday. It was a photo I was sooooo proud of. It's really hard to take photographs of yourself on a timer, even when you are healthy, so to get a few half way decent shots is something that makes me happy. When I get a photo that is good, I jump around inside my head whooping for joy. I don't do it outside my head because my body would scream in rebellion, but inside my head is fine.  The photo in question is this one:

Geeky Rainbow 08

I love this photo because it shows the wonderful gradient effect of this handspun yarn. The yarn was spun from Countess Ablaze Superwash Merino in the Geeks Like Rainbows Too colourway. I talked all about the spinning here. I am so pleased I chose this pattern. It is perfect for this yarn. Antarktis by Janina Kallio was a pattern I first saw on the We Are Yarn podcast. Amanda (the host) had used the pattern and I think she used handspun yarn. It stuck in my head so that when I saw this yarn I knew it would work. The pattern is knit on the bias and uses garter stitch and basic eyelet lace in panels to increase the amount of shawl you get for your yarn.

Geeky Rainbow 07

Look how much shawl you get for 400m of yarn! One of the instructions in the pattern is to "block like you mean it", which really made me smile, and I took the instruction to heart. This shawl can be worn around my shoulders and actually feels like it can keep me warm. Most shawls that use a single skein of sock weight yarn are usually more like scarves than shawls.

Geeky Rainbow 06

In fact, I've been using it quite a bit since finishing it because it is the perfect size to just cover the tops of my arms when it's a little cooler in the morning and evening.

Geeky Rainbow 04

The pattern starts with the tip and it increases faster on one edge than the other to give the bias shape. The top edge of the shawl is nicely elastic as there is a yarn over inserted on one side, which is dropped on the other. This elasticity makes it easier to block firmly.  You can see this edge at the bottom of the shawl in the photo below.

Geeky Rainbow 02

When starting this pattern, you should remember to actually read through to the end, like the pattern tells you to, AND make sure you understand those instruction or you will go wrong , like I did.  I missed out a whole section that needed repeating. I had to rip back a couple of hours work. So my recommendation is to read the pattern, and make notes so you remember what you learnt when reading it, so you don't mess up a few days later!

Geeky Rainbow 03

Once I'd got myself back on track, I stuck to the pattern as written, except for the bottom section of the shawl. I added an extra garter stitch panel between the last two eyelet sections of the shawl. In the pattern, the bottom panel follows the previous one without break. When I reached the start of the last section I knew I had a lot of yarn left over and wanted to use as much of this lovely gradient as possible, so I inserted the extra panel.

Geeky Rainbow 05

I think that the extra panel is more aesthetically pleasing, and I think with this particular yarn it was preferable to add more of the hot pink, to help balance the colours better.

Geeky Rainbow 09

I could not be happier with this shawl. It's a very useful size but it is nice and light and it drapes beautifully. It can be used as a shawl or as a scarf, which means it will get used all year round. This makes me extra happy because these colours lift my heart so much. It is almost impossible to keep a straight face when looking at this shawl. It just makes me want to smile whenever I see it. I've been smiling a lot!

PS Thank you for indulging me in my need to share many of the photos I took of this lovely project. I wanted to post them all, but I felt that would be over-egging the pudding just a little bit too much!



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