BWM 2014 shade card round up

Yep, it’s new shade card time already. I heard rumblings that it was arriving this week, so I was more than a little antsy when the shade card was not ready waiting for me on Tuesday. I’m guessing for most of you this will be old news, but the compulsion to drone on about which colourways Bendigo Woollen Mills has decided are in and which are out overrides any concern about being behind the news curve. I get one opportunity a year to get my BWM colourway spreadsheet out (seriously), so I’m not going to miss it.

2014 shade card

Here’s the summary of the difference between this year’s and last year’s shade card:

Hello/Goodbye

  • Rustic and Alpaca Rich have been discontinued in their entirety
  • Stella (50% bamboo, 50% wool) has been promoted to the main shade card, and expanded to include 17 new colourways

Luxury

  • Tangerine (bright orange, shade number 347), Cerise (pink, 348) and African Violet (light blue-purple, 349) added to the 8 ply range
  • Fuchsia (303) added to the 10ply range
  • Wild Barley (light green-yellow, 323), Cork Brown (light brown, 355) and Iris Mist (light blue-purple, 366) discontinued in the 8ply range. No colourways discontinued in the 10ply range

Classic

  • Maize (cheery yellow, 694) and Hunter (dark green, 753) added to the 2/3/5/8/12 ply range
  • Deep Rose (rosy pink, 760), ember mix (red/green marl, 759), currant (reddish purplish brownish, 761), Mineral Mix (green/red marl, 758), Lilac (very light purple, 762), Midnight Blue (very dark blue, 765), Midnight Green Mix (dark green marl, 755), Evergreen (forest green, 766), Broadleaf (olive green, 763), Grey (light blue-grey, 764), Midnight Mix (dark blue/red marl, 757) and Claret Mix (maroon/dark red marl, 756) added to the 8 ply range

Interesting (to me) observations

  • The paper stock is a lot thinner than previous shade cards. This may (or may not) have something to do with the fact this year’s shade card has four folds, rather than three folds used in previous cards.
  • Classic has been split into two sections on the shade card; in one section are the colourways that come in 2, 3, 5, 8 and 12 ply, and in the other section are colourways that only come in 8 ply. I like this layout a lot.
  • The pattern selection has been expanded a lot. There are 13 patterns featured on this shade card, nine more than last year.

Classic split

The biggest change in this shade card the the end of Rustic and the expansion of Stella. It’s ridiculous to mourn a yarn I haven’t used in years, but when I did use it, I really liked it. I hope that it comes back in some form, even as a limited edition release. Out of all the discontinuations, Rustic is the only thing I would consider panic buying.

Adding to my disappointment is the introduction of Stella into the main shade card. I’ve knit with bamboo blends a couple of times, and only once have I been happy with the results. So while I haven’t used Stella (there’s your grain of salt to accompany my opinion), I’m yet to be convinced by bamboo blends in general.

Some of the new classic colourways, specifically Midnight Blue, Midnight Mix and Claret Mix, are lovely. Midnight Mix and Claret Mix remind me of some of the marled colourways that worked so well in Rustic. I don’t think they work as well in a crepe yarn, but are still nice enough for me to consider purchasing some. The only drawback to them is the weight; a project I’d use them for calls for a 5ply crepe and these new colourways only come in 8ply. I’m never satisfied, obviously.

So, over to you. What do you think about this year’s shade card?

Writing lines

A mere… five weeks after setting the goal to finish the sleeves on my Lee Target cardigan, it’s done! Knitting the back and sleeves as one piece seemed like a walk in the park when I first looked at this pattern, but in reality it was a slog. As a result, my enthusiasm for this project has waned since first starting it. So much so that it’s taken me two weeks since finishing the back to actually write about it.

Lee Target Back.jpg

The upside to spending so much time on the back it that I now know the stitch pattern quite well. The long rows were the equivalent of writing “I must not forget ‘*KB, K2, KF, P4′”; hopefully I won’t have to reknit as many rows in the remaining sections of the cardigan. Also, the other sections of the cardigan are much smaller, so no more 200ish stitch rows.

Half Lee Target Back.jpg

I’m now seeking solace in my other project, the tri-cable cardigan. It seems somewhat backward to consider a cabled 4ply cardigan a holiday in comparison to an 8ply cardigan, but I’ve never claimed to be rational; in fact, I’m really taken aback by how tiring I’ve found working on the Lee Target cardigan to be. Hopefully working on the tri-cable cardigan will provide enough R & R to get back on to it soon. Who knew knitting could be this mentally taxing?

Bendigo socks

Bendigo Socks.jpg

Sox (Dutch Heel) aka Design No. 1799 from Sun-Glo Knitting Book Series 15
110-ish grams Candlebark Country Socks Corriedale/Romney 5ply
2.25mm dpns
Started: July 2013
Finished: November 2013
Modifications: picked up more stitches around the heel flap, worked a few more decrease rounds at the foot.
Ravelryed: here

These socks were part of Matt’s Christmas present last year. They were knit on public transport, at Stitches and Bitches and at various other points in time where Matt wouldn’t see them in progress. Evidently I did a good job of hiding them, because he was thoroughly surprised (or so he tells me).

Both the yarn and the pattern came from Bendigo on the Sheep and Wool Show weekend. The yarn was from Corriedale/Romney sheep from a farm just outside of Bendigo, and the pattern from a stack of vintage patterns I picked up from the Sheep and Wool Show. I generally not location-loyal when it comes to buying things, there’s still enough hometown pride left in me to be tickled by the Bendigo-ness of it all.

Toesies.JPG

I think these socks are one of the best yarn/pattern combinations I’ve ever come across. The socks are pretty basic ribbed socks, but the rustic, slightly slubby texture of the yarn lends itself well to a fairly plain ribbed sock.

The yarn was quite good to work with. It still had a slightly greasy texture from the lanolin left in it, and there was a little bit of vegetable matter that was fairly easy to pick out as I went along. It turns out I quite like working with that kind of toothy, unrefined yarn; it’s not something I’d really want against my neck, but even without nylon in it it seems tough enough to handle the wear and tear of being sandwiched between a foot and a boot.

Heelsies.JPG

One thing about the yarn I didn’t care for was the smell when I was blocking the yarn. Because of the lanolin content I was expecting a wet sheep smell, but as soon as it hit the water, it gave off a pungent camphor/petroleum smell. It was so strong that even though I was blocking it in a room with the door closed and the window open, the smell was still wafting into other parts of the house. Once the socks were dry the smell disappeared, but I’m not particularly looking forward to their next wash.

The pattern itself is fairly unremarkable, it’s just a fairly long (4.5 inch cuff, 12 inch leg) sock with a dutch heel (which, incidentally, seems to be Matt’s preferred heel type. Just so you know). The pattern book was published in 1940, so it’s unsurprisingly quite utilitarian in its design. The only modification I made was to pick up more stitches along the heel flap and increased the number of decrease rows to account for those extra stitches.

All pretty straightforward, but a lovely result nonetheless.

The start of sleeves

This week’s goal was to get to the major increases on my dolman sleeve cardigan. The only impediment I had to reaching my goal was the weather. It was absolute stinker of a week in Melbourne, with hot days, hot nights, crowded trains and general (in my mind, justified) moaning about the weather. Knitting in this weather wasn’t fun, and I did question my sanity many times, but I plugged along and juuuuust made it to the major increases yesterday.

The start of sleeves.jpg

The upside to spending a lot of time working on the cardigan is now I really know the pattern. I’d mentioned before that it was a fairly easy pattern to remember, but it turns out I was lying a little bit. I found the basic structure easy to remember, but there are two mirrored twisted stitches close to one another that I had a lot of trouble committing to memory. I’m still occasionally having to rework the twists, but a lot less often than I was earlier in the week.

Now I can start to see the sleeves coming along on the cardigan, I want to keep going. So, next week’s non-binding, no consequences goal is to finish the sleeves. That does mean working on 224 stitch rows, but it’s at least going to be a lot cooler this week. Small mercies and all that.

Under/over achiever

Last year my crafting output could be charitably described as ‘minimal’. This was for various reasons, but one of them was lack of focus. Projects would be picked up and put down after only a couple of rows, and nothing seemed to get finished. This year, I’m trying a different tack by having little crafting goals for each each week. Being a fairly risk averse person prone to chronic bouts of dufferism, each week’s bar is going to be set pretty low. There will be no death-defying crafting stunts going on here.

This week’s goal was to get up to the armhole decreases on the right front piece of the Tri-Cable Cardigan mentioned in my last blog post. I’d been motoring along fairly well on the body, but getting to the armhole decreases always feels like a milestone (and in some cases, a minor victory).

Not only did I achieve my completely non-binding, no consequences goal, but completely overachieved by finishing the whole piece.

DSC 0026

The more I work on this project, the more I’m drawn in by its knitted web of charms. However, its progress is going to slow a lot now I’m on the second front piece, which requires a row counter to keep track of when buttonholes need to go in.

Next week’s goal is slightly more adventurous: getting to the major increases for the sleeves on the dolman sleeve cardigan. There aren’t too many rows to knit to get there, but there is row counting and this weather forecast to contend with:

Is this a joke?.jpg

Let’s just see how many strange looks I can get from fellow commuters while I’m knitting 8ply alpaca on a 41 degree day…

On reflection

Over the last couple of weeks I’ve been debating whether to do a round up of 2013. I like reading round up posts, it’s nice to see how people have felt about their year. Also, there’s something cathartic about summing it all up; it packages everything up to be stowed away for (possible) future reading and remembering.

This time I’ve got a case of the ‘don’t wannas’. My knitting output was minimal, and outside of knitting there’s just some happenings that I’m not ready to think or write about. So instead of an end of year review, I’m going to postpone any reviewing until July(ish), which will mark one year since the start of a year of vintage knitting. It’s quite a convenient way to procrastinate, but I’m using it.

I’ve still got a couple of FOs waiting for their moment in the bloggy sun, but before I get around to that, here are the projects that have followed me into the new year.

I cast on Tri-Cable Stitch Jumper from A Stitch In Time Volume 2 as soon as Variation on Cable Stitch was done. It’s got all the hallmarks of a slow knit, with all its cables and ribbing and 4ply yarn and small(ish) needles, but it’s flown off the needles.

tri cable back.jpg

A lot of that has to do with the yarn, Patons Dreamtime 4ply, which is pretty much the perfect charcoal grey and a delight to look at. It’s a surprising colourway for a yarn that I thought was a baby yarn, but I’m not complaining.

button band lip.jpg

The button bands for the front pieces are knit with the front piece, which has caused this weird little lip at the bottom of the piece. It’s a little bit annoying but I think I’ll learn to live with it.

The other project I’m working on at the moment is a dolman sleeve cardigan from Lee Target (pattern available from Skiff Knitting). The yarn I’m using for this projects is some rusty 8ply pure alpaca Matt’s mum gave me a few years ago.

Lee Target cardigan.jpg

The pattern is easy to remember but requires enough concentration that it’s not really autopilot knitting. It’s knitting up pretty quickly at the moment, but the combination of yarn and stitch pattern means it’s difficult to count rows to space increase rows correctly. Luckily, I know of a good row counter to do the remembering for me.

I really like the colour and how the pattern’s coming up in this yarn, but there’s the quiet concern about how it’ll hold up once it’s finished. There’s no doubt that it’ll pill like the dickens, but given it’s alpaca, I’m somewhat concerned about how much it’ll drop. I’ve mitigated that risk a little by knitting it at a tighter gauge, but time will tell how well it’ll wear.

There’s one more project that I’m working on, but it’s within a hair’s breadth of being finished so I’ll hold off until it’s done and ready for the great (in the loosest sense of the word) reveal.

How have you brought in the start of the year, craft-wise?

Free Vintage Pattern: Variation of Cable Stitch

Heeeeeeeeere’s a download of Variation of Cable Stitch! Click on the image to get to a pdf version of the pattern.

Variation of Cable Stitch

Variation of Cable Stitch (Hughes pattern No. 710) from Hughes Book No. 208 (Ladies Designs 32-36″)
Sizes: 32″ and 36″ bust
Needles: UK 11/3mm and UK 8/US 6/4mm
Gauge: 5.5 stitches and 8 rows per inch
Ravelry Pattern Page: here

The gauge seems a standard 8ply/DK yarn, which is what I used. To make the larger size with minor modifications, I needed 550g (approximately 1100 metres or 1200 yards) of yarn. For me, it was a pretty quick and easy knit; the only thing to watch out for is the neck, which I felt was a bit small (noting that my neck is neither swanlike nor graceful).

This is my first attempt at posting a vintage pattern, so please let me know if it works OK (or doesn’t, as the case may be).

After some very helpful advice from Bex and a couple of hilariously awkward phone calls to companies related to FW Hughes (the company that produced the pattern) I was able to establish that it was OK to post the pattern.

The people I spoke to about reproducing the pattern were very nice and helpful, but I’ve never heard ‘sorry, you want to do what?’ so many times in my life. In the process of explaining who I was and what I wanted to do, I did find out some interesting tidbits about how Hughes had been bought out, and that the department that handled the knitting patterns was shut down in 1986. Although it was a bit sad to hear about its demise, it wasn’t altogether surprising given I was calling businesses that were in the wool industry, but no longer in the hand knitting industry.

Hearing about how FW Hughes had been bought out and subsequently changed reminded me of Australian Country Spinners, and how it has evolved over the years. The recent Landline piece about ACS has been doing the rounds on the Australian Knitters board on Ravelry but if you haven’t checked it out, it’s well worth a look. Fingers crossed it’s not geoblocked outside of Australia. Spoiler alert: there is a minuscule glimpse at ACS’s pattern archive. I would pay good money to spend some quality time leafing through those patterns, no lie.

Variation of Cable Stitch

Variation of Cable Stitch.jpg

Variation of Cable Stitch From Hughes Book No. 208, Ladies Designs 32-36″
550g Morris and Sons Estate 8ply, Tuscan
4.00mm and 3.00mm needles
Started: April 2013
Finished: November 2013
Modifications: Shorter button placket, extended the collar to start/finish lower, narrower sleeves
Ravelryed: here

It is finished and I’m completely besotted with it. My confidence in it wavered a few times, but now that the buttons are on and I’ve been able to sneak in one wear of it before it gets too hot (thank you Melbourne weather), I’m very happy with how it turned out.

The orange is a surprise hit. As soon as I bought the booklet containing this pattern, I knew that orange would work well with it. The thing I’m most surprised by is how I like it, though it’s unlikely to replace grey as my go-to colour.

Roomy sleeve.jpg

The modifications I made to the pattern were relatively minor. As mentioned before, I made a couple of changes to the neck so the top of the button band sat at the top of my sternum. This involved shortening the button band and lengthening the collar to meet the top of the button band. I also knit the sleeves in the smaller size, so they didn’t billow as much. This did make easing the sleeve a little challenging, but I’m glad I opted for smaller sleeves. Even now, they might be on the biggish side, but it’s nothing I cannot live with.

This project was another example of my inability to judge yarn requirements, as I ended up needing three balls from a different dye lot to finish the jumper. The dye lots were pretty close but still required a little bit of blending to make sure it wasn’t really obvious.

The yarn felt like a standard pure wool 8ply to me; the stitch definition was great and it held up well to multiple froggings. It feels a bit itchy against my neck but it’s nothing I can’t handle. The only thing I’m dubious about is its claim that it’s machine washable, because it felted like a dream when I used felted joins throughout the jumper. This one will never (intentionally) see the inside of washing machine for as long as its mine.

Button button.jpg

Buttonmania came through with the goods, button-wise. When I took the jumper in to Kate, I’d decided that dark brown leather buttons were the way to go. The buttons I walked out with are definitely not dark brown or leather, but I really like them.

As it was a pretty straightforward and fun knit, I’d really like to make the pattern available for others to knit, but have no idea how to establish whether it’s out of copyright. There’s no date on the pattern booklet, and as far as I know the company that produced the booklet is no longer in business. Anyone have any pointers on how I can go about establishing if it’s out of copyright, or getting permission to reproduce the pattern here?

I heart tweedy cables

I heart aran.jpg

I Heart Aran by Tanis Lavallee
around 600g Bendigo Woollen Mills Highlands, Cinder
4.00mm and 3.50mm needles
Started: October 2012
Finished: October 2013
Ravelryed: here

I Heart Aran is the second last of my old modern FOs from earlier this year. All the knitting and seaming was finished in time for this year’s Bendigo Sheep and Wool Show, but it took until a couple of weeks ago to sew on the button. Sometimes 10 minute jobs require months of mental preparation.

It’s the perfect winter jumper with its tweed and cables and a collar I can snuggle into. Even though I opted to knit it out of 8ply instead of aran weight yarn, I can confirm that it is an excellent shield against bitterly cold and wet days.

Because I made it out of 8ply, I made a heap of little alterations to the pattern to make the yarn/pattern combination work. I also lengthened the sleeves and used a three needle bind off at the shoulders rather than the suggested grafting. For a jumper this heavy, I think grafting shoulders together would lead to the jumper dropping; it’s really a spot that needs the structure of a seam.

Roomy.jpg

If I were to make it again, I’d make the body a bit smaller (it’s a lot roomier than I’m used to!), make the shoulders narrower and change the collar so that back of the jumper is cast off and stitches picked up, rather than using live stitches. Like the shoulders, I think a large shawl collar like this one needs the structure of a seam. Otherwise, it starts to collapse on itself like it’s starting to here:

collar slouch.jpg

These concerns don’t detract from the jumper too much, but it makes it hard to recommend the pattern. I don’t think it’s a pattern you can blindly trust and follow; there are quite a few spots where more detail could be provided and better, more appropriate, techniques could be used. So, if you’re super keen to make it, I highly recommend having a really close, critical read through before casting on.

butterscotch button.jpg

Lastly but not leastly, my absolute favourite part of this jumper has nothing to do with knitting. I picked up this vintage button not long after casting on, and I’ve been marvelling at its shiny butterscotch-like form and colour for nearly a year. I’m not entirely sure that it matches the jumper, but I’m so pleased it’s in use and no longer simply a desk ornament.

It came from Haberdash in Castlemaine, a place I cannot speak highly enough of. If you have even a passing interest in vintage crafts, this place is well worth a visit. It’s a treasure trove.

Where’s my WIPs at?

I know I’ve made a terrible grammar faux pas in the title, but it reminds me of a Basement Jaxx track with a somewhat disturbing monkey/human video. So, the grammar crime remains and I refuse to show any remorse for it.

Anyhoo, this is just a short update on my two WIPs. First up is a Variation of Cable Stitch.

It sits before me as an almost complete jumper and even though I’m the only one who has worked on it, I’m surprised it’s nearly there. Since last mentioning it, I knit the sleeves and made minor ‘edits’ to the front to make the neckline a little lower at the front. It’s becoming increasingly apparent that I do not sport a graceful swan-like neck, so I suspect I’ll be making a lot more of these kinds of modifications in the future.

Variation on almost done.jpg

All that’s left to do is sew down the facings, give it a wash and then take it in to the lovely people at Buttonmania to find some buttons.

My other WIP is the brown jumper of immense frustration. Last time I mentioned it, I was getting increasingly annoyed at the hiccups I was encountering along the way. Since then, I’ve finished reknitting the button band and have almost finished one of the sleeves. It’s been quite the voyage of discovery, reworking those two parts of the jumper.

One of the things I discovered was the importance of seaming technique. On my first attempt at attaching the button band I used my default seaming method, mattress stitch, to attach the band to the body. Even though I had a lot of button band leftover, I didn’t realise that I was stretching button band out a lot. To show you how much, the strip of moss stitch sitting on top of the jumper is the original button band; it’s probably two thirds of the length of the current button band.

Mattress stitch button band.jpg

The new button band is attached using whip stitch, which worked a treat. I hadn’t contemplated using whip stitch for button bands before, and it was only because I accidentally saw mention of it in A Stitch In Time Volume 2 that I tried it. It was a proper happy accident.

whip stitch neckline.jpg

The other thing I realised was that there was absolutely no chance of easing the sleeve into the armhole on my first attempt. This was primarily because I’d cast on 10 stitches less than I was meant to, and had, in turn, knit 10 rows more than I was meant to. This spectacular misreading of the pattern is probably my best bout of dufferism of late.

Even after removing the 10 extra rows, the sleeve would still probably be a bit too big. I’ve made the sleeve smaller again, and even though it’s looking a lot better, the lack of precision is upsetting me a little. If I wasn’t so far into reworking the sleeves, I would definitely use this tutorial from By Gum By Golly. It would pretty much solve all of my problems (except the whole duffer thing).

How about you, where’s your WIPs at?