Monday, 17 August 2009

Test Knitting & Some Shopping

I have finally finished Extravaganza. It was a test knit from the group on Ravelry Free Pattern Testers, which have helped me with my test knits. It is an invaluable resource for new designers who can't afford to have their patterns professionally test knit, and the knitters get to try new patterns for free, before anyone else. Testing other people's patterns has also taught me a lot about what I want to put in my own patterns and how I want to present it.

Doing this test knit has helped keep me occupied whilst my own pattern is being tested. It is a nerve wracking time when you let your pattern out into the big wide world for the first time. It is terrifying for me, when I wonder what other people will think not only of my design, but of my pattern writing and presentation. I also get very excited about what other people will make with my patterns. I love it when people make my pattern their own, by changing yarns or giving it a little personal twist. I like to think that the pattern is a springboard to help launch the reader into areas they have not thought of before, but I also need to know that if the reader doesn't want to change a thing, they will be happy with the final result.

The test knit I have just finished was knit exactly according to the pattern, well apart from one stitch count which was wrong, and an extra pattern repeat on the collar because I lost count, and I am very happy with it. It is knit in 2 strands of cream Rowan Kidsilk Haze, which is one of my favorite yarns. It was comprised of quite simple lace pattern, which I managed to mess up, because of chatting at knit group as usual. However, when I was concentrating it was pretty straight forward.

I took the finished knit down to Mary Clare and got her to model it for a quick photo.

This is the cape before blocking and it looks really quite small. I knit the M/L size and it just fitted Clare who is more like an XS. However I trusted the pattern and I have now blocked it according to the measurements given and I think it will probably fit me now. I blocked with my new toys. I got some Soak on a day out to Breedon on the Hill last week, which I will talk about in a bit. I also bought some foam tiles on ebay. I have been thinking about getting some for a while, and this test knit pushed me into spending my pennies.

I got two sets of four, to make sure I have enough to block even the largest item, and I am glad I did. I found that placing the two layers in a stack, made the blocking surface more stable and prevented the pins from going through to the bed. The foam tiles will also break down into smaller components than my old cardboard box blocking board.

I lay my gingham cloth over the top, and pinned my "Soak"ed cape out. Pinning the wet cape was much easier than pinning it dry and then wetting it, which is what I have done in the past. I will use this technique in future, after reading about it in a magazine article. Despite the increased ease, I still managed to block wonky, no matter how many times I moved the pins. I really must get some blocking wires, but in the mean time I am quite proud of my attempt.

I am pretty sure that the wonkiness won't show too much when the cape is dry and worn. This was intended to be a Christmas present, but if it fits, I'm keeping it, because I love it!

Now onto my day out, when I visited Create & Knit, which is a great yarn store in the Old Granary Studios, at Breedon on the Hill. I went with my friend Jennie and had a lovely lunch in the tea room, wandered happily amongst the antiques and gift shops and bought nice things at Create & Knit. We also had a sit down and knit with Cath who owns Create & Knit and had a splendid time getting to know her and another knitter called Jenny.

I am usually very loyal with my spending in yarn stores, as Clare (above) knows! However Create & Knit has a totally different range of yarns to Mary Clare, so it was definitely worth the trip. Cath is one of only two stockists in the UK who sells Peaches & Creme, and she also has other cottons from the USA. I treated myself to a couple of ball of a bamboo/cotton, which is very soft and silky.

I also bought some King Cole Mirage, which is extremely soft and light and in beautiful colours. I bought enough to make myself a long cardigan with cables, as I really want one this winter. I love the colourway I got, and Jennie bought the same yarn but in a different colourway

I know think I have enough big projects to keep me going through a big chunk of the winter, and all the yarn I bought has been at bargain prices. The great thing is, nearly all the big projects are for me!


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